May I say your name?
No I do not want that.
How old are they?
101 and four months.
Do you feel old?
Sometimes yes. You feel cornered. You no longer have a task, no goal. You know, I’m still a little curious. I want to know what’s going on outside. And here in the home one is so isolated.
How long have you lived in the nursing home?
The third year.
Did you live at home before?
Yes. I just gave up my apartment four weeks ago.
Home is your last stop in life. You will die here.
Yeah, practically I’m just counting the days I’m alive. (laughs)
Why are you laughing when you say that?
You’re suddenly over it. I can’t explain it myself.
When did it start that you “got over it”?
It’s not that long. At first I was worried: “How will you be when the apartment is gone?” But then everything went smoothly. It was even a kind of salvation. And now I’m practically penniless, just have a bed and a cupboard.
So life is now narrower on the one hand, but easier on the other?
I’m kinda . . . poor. It’s humbling because I need so much help. The body no longer cooperates. I’m not used to asking for help every day. Those are very simple things that you can no longer do. It’s cruel. But if you think, “Oh, I’ll leave it then,” then you degenerate.
Do you always have to pull yourself together to ask for help?
I can see the nurses are so busy. I don’t want to ring the bell just because something fell down. You feel like a worm, digging in the dirt and not knowing what to do. I know when you’re young you don’t think about that. I was young once too. At that time I thought: When I’m old, I’ll make myself beautiful. I go for walks and read. And all of a sudden you can’t do that anymore.
When did you start feeling old?
I was almost 90 then. When my husband died afterwards and the children left home, I traveled a lot at first. Scotland, Norway, Syria, Jordan, Egypt. I’ve actually always been healthy. Until the arthrosis came in my knees. And then I broke my wrist and a hip, couldn’t stay home alone anymore.
Has your body just become weak at some point?
The body no longer cooperates. It took me a long time to come to terms with it. I’ve always done a lot of sports. I did gymnastics here with a hundred other ladies – of course no strength exercises. And now all of a sudden I can’t anymore. I’m rusty. The shoulders, the arms, I just can’t lift them anymore. (She tries, but it doesn’t go far.)
What’s not working anymore? The muscles?
It just doesn’t want to anymore. I also notice in my head that I’m getting old. So, old am. I no longer have stamina, even in thinking. Suddenly I can’t find a word anymore. Like a vending machine with nothing left in it.
Do you feel like your body still belongs to you? Or has he become a stranger to you in old age?
No, not alien. My mind tells me: That’s the way it is, there’s no other way. It’s the natural. It all comes to an end at some point. But I have days when I think I’d like to get up and start running, right! And it doesn’t work anymore.
What would you do if you had a different body?
I would like to run through the forest again. I miss the calm. You’ll laugh: It’s always too loud in the home. I can still hear well. Every punch and every rum. And everyone here is hard of hearing, the nurses have to scream. That bothers me, you know. That hurts me, the loud. Well, I’ve gotten used to it by now. At first I jumped every time a door slammed.