Friday, January 23, 2009

Aukje de Vries' Diary Day 6

Busy day. Among others: teleconference in the morning and a meeting with friends/neighbours in the afternoon. Besides, my cleaning lady comes in the morning.The teleconference goes well and does not last too long, but because there is so much on the agenda we omit some items that we should have discussed. The conference leaves me with lots of work to be done. I have not yet finished clearing my desk and current files, so I decide to give priority to that before going to the meeting at Esther’s home. Esther lives in the same street as I, three houses down the block. Over the past years we have become close friends and we are actually the first port of call for each other, to exchange experiences, to ask for advice or support. We are in a similar situation, living on our own. Esther has been divorced but has no children, I have never been married. Esther has a brother, whom she does not see very often and I have no brothers or sisters, so both of us must rely on friends. Further down the street there are two other women, more or less our age, who live there by themselves as well. Liz, who is a widow and who has two daughters, one of whom has emigrated to New Zealand and Jacqui, who like me, has never been married (as far as I know) and has been a school principal. Liz and Jacqui also have very frequent contacts and help each other wherever they can, just like Esther and myself. Both Liz and Jacqui are active watchers of what happens in our street and our neighbourhood. Liz, trained as a lawyer, is also very active in her church and knows very many local people. Since our government keeps telling us that we have to rely more on volunteers and informal care, we have decided to meet once every few months with the four of us, getting to know each other better so that we will be able to help each other more easily when the necessity arises. This is an implicit understanding, not formalised in any way.

Jacqui has just had a hip replacement. She tells us about her experiences. Both Esther and Liz have had both hips replaced, so they know exactly what Jacqui is going through. Liz has helped Jacqui after her discharge from hospital. We discuss several issues, such as experiences we have come across of people who need home care but do not get it.We also wonder about the new electronic card that we will have to use to pay for all public transport: train, tram, subway and busses throughout the country. The government and transport companies who develop this card have run into many difficulties and its introduction has been deferred time after time. Rotterdam is the first city in the country where at the end of this month the card will become the only means to pay for the subway. The card must be on sale in Rotterdam, but how will we get it? One of us knows that the rail pass that we have (and which gives seniors a reduction) can be used electronically, but then we still do not know how we can charge it. Because of a newspaper ad which I saw a few days ago I have looked at the website of our local transport company, but that has not been very helpful. So I have sent them an e-mail asking for information. I have not yet received an answer. Liz tells about her coming trip to New Zealand, where she will visit her daughter and son in law and will take a tour and we discuss our cats. Esther and I used to have cats but they died several years ago. Last year we both adopted a new cat.

George, Esther’s cat was more or less forced on her. She had pity on him, because his owners did not take good care of him and he was often out on the street at night asking to be let in at her door. The owners finally asked her to take him. My cat (Tigger) at first only came to visit me in the summer when the doors to my garden were open. When he visited me more and more frequently I found out where he belonged but it turned out he had left home a year ago and did absolutely not want to go back there. The owner regretted this but she agreed it would be best for the cat if he would stay with me. It had not been my intention either to take a new cat, but once it was there….Cats are nice company! Liz has inherited the cat of the daughter who emigrated. Jacqui and two other neighbours, living closer to Liz than Esther and I will take turns taking care of Liz’s cat. We leave Esther’s house after a pleasant and relaxing afternoon.

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