7 August 2015
By Yevdokia “Dunya” Sheremetyeva [littlehirosima]
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
–Veanida! What a beautiful name! And unusual!
Semyonova Chizhikova, born 1931. One would think she does not
understand anything. But it’s not so. She’s trying to say something,
with her twisting tongue and tears in her eyes. She understands
everything but it’s difficult for her to speak.
It’s difficult for her to speak, but she tries very hard.
–I also have a rare name! I’m Dunya.
–My grandmother was named Dunya–Yevdokiya.
–Veanida Semyonovna, would you like a piece of candy?
–My hands don’t work.
–I bring it to you!
I bring it up her mouth, but she lost her composure and started to cry.
A nurse walked up and stroked her head.
We left the room, and she cried and cried.
The corridors in the retirement home are long, endlessly long. And straight.
You get stuck in them like in chewing gum.
Rooms, rooms, wheelchairs, walkers.
And the smell–the smell is indescribable.
I run into a similing old lady.
–Katya, want some candy?
The nurse brings me to meet Yekaterina Starykh, born 1927.
–She has a real sweet tooth!
We walk into her room.
“Katya” is not one of the bedridden ones. She’s a very spry old lady. But she’s hard of hearing.
–Would you like some candy? Should I unwrap it?
–Oh yes!!! That’s all for me? For me? Oy!
As we were leaving, “Katya” instantly stuck the bag of candy under her pillow.
Klava Musenich’s room is nearby.
–Klava, Klava, how old are you?
–I don’t remember. 90? 93?
–We brought you candy, gingerbread.
reaches for the package. The nurses are on familiar terms with all the
old ladies and use the shortened versions of their names. No Klaudias,
and especially no patronymics.
I took out a cookie and handed it to hear. She instantly broke it in half and started chewing.
–She looks like she’s hungry.
–But we’ve just fed them.
all the old ladies started eating the cookies and candy as soon as they
got them. They reached for them. Some immediately hid the bags of candy
under pillows and mattresses.
Room after room. Neverending loneliness.
Bedsores, pain, non-healing wounds.
–Many of them don’t understand anything anymore.
not true. Many take you by the hand, they grasp at it like a drowning
man grasping at straws. And they look you in the eye. Sometimes it seems
they are not happy because of the diapers and candy. But because you
came by and remembered them. Because you are talking to them.
Everyone needs at least a couple of minutes of attention. And they come back to life.
I don’t know how to say this. But I can see that they understand why and for what we came here. On some deep level.
Anastasiya Samoilovna Stancho, born 1925.
live in their own reality. With their own demons and devils. With KGB
and murderers. Sometimes they withdraw into that reality because their
consciousness wants to hide from the reality which is so awful. It’s a
self-preservation instinct. When the consciousness rebuilds reality so
that one can continue to exist in it.
And yes, they need attention. It is necessary for them.
Viktor Ivanovich Vasilevskiy, born 1953.
retirement homes and hospices have it the hardest in wartime
conditions. Because they are on their final lap of sorts. Therefore they
have the fewest chances to receive diapers and household goods.
can see opened packages of adult diapers on the photographs. I don’t
want to accuse anyone. There are workers and then there are workers. But
it’s best not to tempt them. I know cases from other retirement homes
where the workers simply sold adult diapers they received through
humanitarian aid. And they are worth a great deal of money.
Maria Titorenko, born 1946.
Viktor Levinskiy, born 1940.
Nikolai Ivanovich Khriplivyy, born 1928.
Anna Ivanovna Belozerova, born 1938.
Mariya Zakharovna Geyma, born 1936.
Oleg Bondarenko, 60 years old.
Ivan Ivanovich Barva, born 1938.
Olga Sergeyevna Dolgaya, born 1931.
Valentina Aleksandrovna Pokladok, born 1935.
Valeriy Vasilyevich Voyevodin.
Viktor Kolobrodov, born 1938.
Gennadiy Zotov, born 1946.
Lida Glitsenko, born 1950.
Mariya Andreyevna Mikhailenko, born 1924.
There is nothing more terrifying than old age like this. When you are quietly fading, not needed by anyone…
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