I thought I'd get away with not writing about it. I didn't want to write about it. I wanted to post the photos and be done with it. The problem with stories is that they demand to be told, regardless of someone's mood or preferences. So here I am, writing. This is yesterday's story:
"Tehuis Vir Bejaardes, Luipaardsvlei" is an old age home in Krugersdorp. A couple of us visited them as part of our church's Easter outreach. It's amazing how, whilst believing our mandate was kindness, kindness was bestowed upon us. Everyone welcomed us with open arms. When I have my camera with me at an outreach, I often feel like I'm taking from people. Although we're there to give, whether it be food, prayer, or other necessities; I would prefer not to photograph the people we encounter. But then, stories demand to be told, remember? This is why I asked for permission before photographing anyone. No one denied me. It's a testament to their generosity, regardless of their health or their state of mind.
"Green is my favourite colour" said the lady with the green jersey, "and Joey's favourite was blue". Her eyes welled up. Joey was her best friend of seventy years, who passed away just the day before. Suddenly bringing chocolate felt totally inadequate, inappropriate even. Seventy years. What a wonderful privilege to walk a road with a friend for seventy years. What heart wrenching pain to lose that friend when you yourself have nothing to look forward to. These are the things I ponder when faced with human mortality. Maria was comforted by the knowledge that Joey had gone on to be with the Lord. A beautiful destiny, albeit painful for those left behind.
Moving on, we came upon a room with a door that led outside. The door was locked. This was evident by the force the old lady was applying to the handle, to no avail. She muttered under her breath as we walked past into the next room to distribute more chocolates. As the rest of our group started talking to the occupants of the room, I waited by the door so that I could see the old lady. Now seated, she was swearing profusely. "My bicycle is outside, I want to go get my bicycle" she said to no one in particular. Eventually a nurse came by, and I asked about her behaviour. "It's Alzheimer's" she said, "nothing can be done".
In the next ward, we met a lady who had an old photograph of herself hanging above her bed. "She used to be a model" someone said. The faded black and white photograph was of a young, beautiful, blonde woman; clearly confident in her pose. When we asked her about it, she replied: "I traveled the world, I had a wonderful life, but life is over so quickly". She had no resemblance to the young woman. Beauty, so highly esteemed in today's society; of no lasting value.
As we walked through the wards, we came into contact with many different people. Some reading, some watching television, some taking naps. I couldn't help but wonder whether they felt they had any purpose left. One can only watch so much 7de Laan. Being surrounded by people doesn't automatically ward off loneliness. Many of these people hardly see their children, if at all.
All of this is a reminder of how precious life is. It is never too late to follow that dream, to love that person, to make amends. We have so much to live for.
Some of today's photos: