My second job is in home care, most of the time it´s for the elderly. I don´t have fixed addresses or working hours. I just contact the planner and tell her when she can use me. Lately I´ve set my self available a lot. Trying to scrape some extra money before our trip (just 48 days left!!). It’s tiring but I do meet a lot of people doing this.
This time I’ve met another old lady, 93 years old to be specific. She lives in a small village nearby where I live. It’s a 30 minute ride with my bike, since I have no car. Either way, I didn’t mind that day because the sun was shining and it’s finally getting warmer in the Netherlands. After a sunshine filled trip through the middle of nowhere I arrived at her floor level apartment. She welcomed me inside and told me to sit down. She asked me how I was doing and she was just so enthusiastic. We talked for a bit and then I asked her what she wanted me to do in the 1,5 hour I had at her home. ‘Just clean the windows outside and we’ll see if we have time left to vacuum. When do you want to drink some coffee?’ she answered. I told her we’d drink some coffee after I cleaned the windows. So I did. It took me 15 to 20 minutes. After I cleaned all the windows, I made us some coffee and grabbed some cookies to eat. She wanted to sit outside because the weather was so good. There we were, sitting in the sun looking at the road and drinking coffee. I had no idea that time of how old she was. She just told me that she can’t see a lot with 1 eye and that she has problems with balance.
‘You’re still able to do a lot of things, I guess you always took good care for your body right?’ It was my first ‘interview’ question for her
‘Oh yes.’ she said. ‘I lived on a farm, my eldest brother died young and that was when I became the ‘chief’. I was the one taking care of a lot of things around our farm.’
‘On a farm, did you also eat a lot of the food you had on your land?’
‘YES!’ A big yes came out of her mouth. Like it was weird if I thought different. She told me that they had never been to the bakery or any butcher’s shop. Always their own food. She went on and said: ‘We only got water to drink. And sometimes if we had visitors we could drink some lemonade. We had no candy and stuff. The culture was different. It was no trend to eat stuff like that, besides we didn’t have that much sweet stuff.’
Our conversation went on and we agreed that you can set a big question mark at a looot of products these days. ‘I don’t really trust those companies, neither the quality marks. People are corrupt and lazy these days’ she said. Corruption and laziness have always been around but she means that it has transformed in modern ways. That even food isn’t ‘pure’ anymore, all the artificial ingredients they add.
A final tip from this lady: ‘Don’t contaminate yourself with this crap, try to eat healthy. I always ate the Dutch farmer food. And meat. Everyday a slice of meat. I have taken care of my body by hard work and good food.’ That was pretty much where I found out how old she was. 93, still walking good, cooking, cleaning.. wauw.
’93 Years old.. Do you remember a lot of World War II?’
‘My dear, I remember it as if it was yesterday. Black pages in history.. Bad times.’
‘What exactly do you remember if I may ask? Horrible things like shootings and murder?’
‘Sad enough I did. I lived on a farm as you already know. I was washing something when I heard it was war. A lot of people had a bomb shelter, so did we and that’s where we spent most of the time.
And yes, I have seen horrible things. I remember our neighbor. He went out of his bomb shelter to get some food inside. He got shot trying to do that..’
I asked her: ‘By who? By the German?’ She answered: ‘I think so, but to be honest it could have been anyone with a gun. In a wild shooting like that, partner and enemy didn’t care who they shot.’ ‘The German of that time were merciless. They burnt a school and a lot of houses. Just because they could, or maybe because there were people in those houses fighting them. They went through all bombing shelters, looking for the enemy. I don’t like fights, all these fights going on in the world… And for what? Probably money and power. It’s sad.’
A half hour further I did some quick cleaning in the house because she wanted to show me her photo books. She showed me where she had been. Traveled to Japan, Egypt and she even went on a bike trip through The Netherlands two times at the age of 60+. No surprise she’s still this fit.
After browsing through her photo books, I realised that I had to leave so I grabbed my bag and showed her my bag. I told her it was a present from friends, they just got back from Ghana. It’s a handmade backpack made of different kinds of colorful fabric. She just loved it and wanted one for her granddaughter.
The story behind this backpack: A sister of a friend of mine had a relationship with a really nice and honest man from Ghana. They broke up a few years ago but the whole family is still in contact with him. He makes wonderful bags, instruments, sculptures and a lot more of unused items. He uses car tires for example. Ghana doesn’t really get a lot of tourists so his incomes are minimal. But the wonderful part is that he’s trying to build a polyclinic for kids. He buys 1 brick if he can from his profits for this clinic and for a own house!
I’m planning on making a feature about his products or even an Ebay/Etsy account to help him with this. I have always doubted charities. Not because they’re bad, but just because you have no idea where your money is going. Now I know where it’s going, I’ve met him a couple of times when he was in The Netherlands and besides.. you get really cool stuff in return!
This was another inspiring day. I was touched by her stories, how she lost her husband, how she nursed him for 10 years, how she lost a son, how her vision in life is and her enthusiasm.
Think about what’s in the products you buy, are they good for you? Cherish your family. Stay active and eat healthy. Last but not least, enjoy the things you CAN do!