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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

evergreen terrace

my mother, brother and i went and visited my granfather, poppa on easter friday. when we arrived, there were signs over all entrances stating 'DANGER. CONTAMINATED ZONE.' we buzzed the nurse, no answer. 'well, they're clearing out another one' said justin as we watched a large trolley approach. we followed the trolley into 'evergreen 3' (the minimum security dimensia ward at RSL war vets, narrabeen). a small man tired with age pulled himself up a wheelchair ramp. i watched the energy and life exhasuting out of him, while performing such a simple task, and it was as i thought 'gee, at least poppa isn't like this' that i realised this was poppa.

his toothless smile gaped open and he hugged us all with more strength that a man at the peak of his life, and i squeezed back, with all i had. there was a faint smell of dencorub and urine.

we spent an hour showing him how to turn on the tv, which he insisted was broken. i looked around the room. so sparse. a framed painting of my mum, regal and untasteful. black and white images of my grandfathers past placed haphazardly on the wall. a chair. a bed and a set of drawers. he had four times this, four times the photos, but over the past year, he has thrown most of his possesions over the balcony.

there were some beautiful plants outside, made moist from his daily urination into the wild.

we walked for about 50m. he was overjoyed. though i noticed he winced when he saw my brother type in the unknown security code to 'escape this place.'

arm in arm we walked. he couldnt hear us. but that didnt matter. he was happy. happy easter.

by the time we got back we were practically carring him. and this time when justin typed in the security code, he was not at all interested in memorizing it. we were home.

we escorted him into the dining hall. everyone slowly looked up. men on one side, women on the other. poppa walked over and sat with the girls. (he was always a bit of a ladies man). as we left i called out 'happy easter!' and everyone chanted it back at me. one old gentleman dressed as a bunny, jumped up and screamed 'bye!' while a little lady stared at me, unyielding, lips pursed shut.

crossing generations


Anonymous Laubschr said...

Wow, powerful post. I have a lump in my throat now :-(

4:38 PM  

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