I had written this imaginary story in 2007 and it was set for the year 2017. Now we are already in the year 2018! Peter and I still live at home. I remember when I wrote that story I imagined that to live in a hostel type situation would be a great place to be towards the end of ones life if one was still in reasonable good health. My friend Eva Maria who was born in 1911, the same year my mother had been born in, lived in a hostel the way I describe it in my story. I visited Eva Maria regularly. I felt very close to this motherly friend. I turn 84 during this month of September 2018. When I wrote the following story I was not quite 73 yet, imagining what I might be like when I was going onto 83 years of age. Here now is this imaginary story:
Uta awoke at five o’clock in the morning. She sat down at her computer intending to write a bit more about her life. She reflected it had been some time since she had written anything. She wondered why she found it so difficult to get into the mood for writing.
When her husband was still sleeping next to her, she would sometimes sneak away early in the morning to do some work at the computer. Quite often he would wake up soon after and come looking for her. Finding her, he would say in an irritated voice: ‘What do you have to get up this early for?’ More often then not she then went back to bed with him.
Uta thought she should enjoy writing early in the morning since she could do it now without having to worry about interruptions. Instead she thought back to when her husband was still alive. How they always found time to talk about a lot of things. When he read an interesting book, he would tell her all about it. She would do the same, if something that she had been reading, had fascinated her.
Who was there to discuss things with now, she thought to herself as she looked at his photo, that stood in front of her on the table. Uta lived with another forty people in a hostel. She was friendly with a lot of them. But none of them had the same interests that she had. Most of the TV programs they watched, did not interest her. And none of the residents would take an interest in the books that she read.
Today was Wednesday. This meant Martha was to come visiting her. As always they were to play Scrabble. They both loved to play this game. Uta was going to tell Martha about Lily Brett’s novel, that she had just finished reading. It was called: ‘You gotta have Balls!’ Uta knew that Martha had read the book already. So they would discuss it together. Uta thought it was good, to be able to talk with someone about a book she had enjoyed reading very much. Martha usually arrived at the hostel around nine o’clock and stayed with Uta till lunch.
Reflecting on all the residents, Uta thought, it was such a pity, that she did not have more in common with them. Uta still loved to talk to all of them. But it was mostly small-talk. And it was mostly about the newest sickness that one or the other resident had come up with.
Uta was eighty-two years old. There were a lot of residents younger than her. However their interest in life was extremely limited. This was so sad. A lot of the residents liked to talk about the past, about the families they had had; they constantly complained that these days they had seldom any visitors. There were even some residents who never did get any family visiting them!
People were so grateful when you sat down and listened to them for a while. Often they responded with a lovely smile, being happy someone showed an interest in what they wanted to talk about. Uta was very fond of all these people who would respond with a smile. It warmed her heart. She was so happy, that most of the residents seemed to like her. Even the few really grumpy residents seemed to like her a bit. These grumpy residents could not help being grumpy, she thought.
Uta contemplated how lucky she was, to live in a comfortable room with her own toilet facilities. She also had her own TV set, radio and of course her computer. To reach the dining-room, she had to walk down a long passageway to a connecting building. All meals were served in the dining-room.
Not far from Uta’s room was a large lounge-room.The hostel was situated at the top of a hill. This East facing lounge-room had magnificent large windows. With the morning sun coming in, you could see all the way to the Pacific ocean. Plenty of comfortable big chairs were placed around the room. There were also a number of tables with four smaller chairs to each table. Uta and Martha usually played Scrabble sitting at one of these tables. To finish three games of Scrabble took them only about two hours. Around ten o’clock they had a tea-break. Uta loved to make cups of tea in the little kitchen adjoining the lounge-room. The staff served tea at the other end of the hostel in the comfortable room next to the dining-room. Sometimes Uta went down there for her morning tea.
There were laundry rooms in two different parts of the hostel with a number of washing machines and dryers. Uta felt fortunate, that she was still able to do her own washing. But she knew, if she was struck by a sickness, the staff would willingly do the washing for her. She never had to do her bedlinen. That was seen to by the hostel staff. The hostel also provided cleaning personal to clean all the rooms. Uta’s room would usually be cleaned Tuesdays.
A lot of the residents did not like the food that was being served at the hostel. They complained day in day out how horrible the food was. Uta thought to herself it was splendid that three cooked meals were being served every day. She usually did eat everything that was served, except for the meat, because she did not like to eat a lot of meat; never had liked it.
Uta looked at the clock and saw it was already past seven o’clock. So she had missed the seven o’clock news on TV. Instead of the TV she turned on the radio: ABC Classic FM. The room was bathed in some exquisitely soothing music. She loved this music. Taking another look at Peter’s photo, she was reminded, how much Peter had loved music like this.
Slowly, Uta got ready to get showered and dressed . She had not written anything, instead she had spent the time just thinking about her life. At ten to eight she arrived at the dining-room. Breakfast was to be served at eight.
Here this imaginary story ends. I am glad now that I do still live at home and I feel very lucky that Peter, my husband, is still with me. We know that our years together are numbered. Still, we try to enjoy life together for as long as possible. At present both Peter and I tend to think to live in our own home for as long as possible is really the best solution. As far as I remember there was no accommodation for couples in that hostel where Eva used to live. These days some help may be available for singles or couples at an advanced age that live at home on their own. If we are so fortunate to still live for a number of years, maybe this home help that may be going to need in future will be then available somehow. Let’s just hope for the best and not worry too much. In any case, I do feel now, that I would like to stay as independent for as long as possible, and not having to move into an aged care home would be my desire!