But about two years ago, she began to forget things. Soon, she lost all sense of time; and I began to receive regular late night calls from worried neighbours telling me she was roaming the streets in search of a loaf of bread in the middle of the night. Many times, she locked herself out, and I'd have to come down from Amsterdam where I worked to let her in again. She flew into rages over the tiniest things; and began to lose the ability to express herself accurately, not being able to think of the words she needed. More and more, she began to fall back on the language she'd spoken in her childhood and teenage years: Malaysian. A language my sister and I don't speak. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Then, she began to ail physically: bronchitis, pneumonia, falls, and broken ribs. I no longer received those calls to come get her, as she no longer went out into the street, and became increasingly housebound.
The first week of March, she told me that she thought she might be better off in a care home. I promised to look into it. Then, the coronavirus struck and everything was put on hold for 4 months.
Two weeks ago, a representative of the CIZ, the central authority for deciding what care an elderly individual needs and can claim under a particular law, came to assess her; and on Friday, we received the highest 'indication', entitling her to round the clock care, 24/7, in the care home of our choice. We opted for one that advertised catering to the needs of former Dutch-East Indian colonials. On Wednesday, the care home called to say she could move in the next day.
But because of the corona crisis and the restrictions pertaining to care and nursing homes during the recent lockdown, we hadn't had a chance to view it yet. All I knew about it was what I'd seen and read on their website. So I told them I wanted to have a look round first, and then decide.
So I went to inspect it yesterday. And I saw pictures of sawas and kampungs on the walls, batik throws on the seats, heard krontjong music playing, saw other Indos sitting and chatting in the communal living room...I'm hopeful that Mum will connect and make friends with these people, who share the same background as her, when I take her there next Tuesday. But I know I will feel like a terrible person, when I'll leave her there, with her suitcase, on her own for the first night.