Peter stood in the elevator and looked up to the display above the doors. The number on the display said 3 and was sliding out of view to the number four.
The elevator stopped and Peter sighed for moment. He never really liked this moment. The elevator doors opened to a hallway with weak TL-lighting. He stepped out and walked towards a large door at the right-side of the hallway. He grabbed the handle and openend the slightly heavy door.
Immediately after opening the familiar sound of incoherent muttering and the occasional yelp hit him. Just moments after, a cloud of disinfectant and old people’s body odours poured in his nose. He always forgot that part. The smell.
“dementia”, he thought to himself. He felt a bit guilty for thinking it, but knew to himself that it was true.
Peter closed the door and took a moment to take everything in. “Please close the door at all times”, said a small sign just beside the door.
Peter turned around walked in. ”Mister Walker?”, he heard a kind, yet strong voice say beside him. “Your father is in the blue-room.” Peter recognised her as one of the nurses, but never remembered any of their names.
“blue-room” he thought, “apparently before losing your mind completely, that last thing you still recognize are colours.”
The layout was simple. Two corridors called the yellow and red corridor, with the bedrooms, leading to the main area, where he was now. And one common-room decorated as a living room called the blue-room. The main area had no special name. All very simple, but every time he was there some old person was lost again. He did not know why he remembered that, but it stood out. Just like now.
He saw a old lady standing in the corner crying and muttering in her own dialect. He could just make out some words. “M.., wher… me home?”
He walked into the blue room and looked around. In the corner he saw quiet old man sitting alone at a table. He stared expressionless across the room, all that was left of his father.
Peter sat down beside him. “Hi dad how are you?”
His father turned his head and looked at him surprised. Peter knew what it meant. He saw that expression before. He was a stranger to his own father. "Excuse me?" a young girl asked him. "Would you like some tea or coffee?" Peter looked up at the young woman a little dazed. "Uh, Yes please. Tea." "Some sugar or milk", she replied. "Oh, no thank you." Peter felt a bit absent minded.
The girl poured the tea, while Peter redirected his attention to his father. "So what did you do today?" at a feeble attempt to connect to him. His father just starred down with a bewilderd look on his face.
Mr Walker?, Peter noticed that the girl looked at his father. "Would you like some tea?" "Ow,yes please dear." The attention seem to make him live up for a moment. He even smiled a little. Peter grabbed the tea cup already standing in front of his father to hand it to the girl. It was still full, but cold. "Ow Mister Walker, you forgot to drink your tea." Said the girl. His father looked up confused, "Tea?"
Peter sat for a while with his father. It was hard seeing him like this. Slowly slipping away. Always a little bit more lost deep inside his head. It started slowly, about ten years ago. Misplacing little things and forgetting names of people and things. He always had mom helping when he needed something and together they managed, but after three years she got a heart-attack. She survived, but she lost some of the energy she had before and everything was just that more harder. After a while she had another heart-attack and died. Dad was heartbroken and completely lost. His great love was gone and his memory was failing even more. He got professional help at home and Peter and his brother John helped where they could. One day John went to visit him. The backdoor was open, but he was nowhere. After searching through the house for fifteen minutes he noticed the toilet-light being on. John opened the door and found his father sitting on the toilet shivering. When John asked him how long he'd been there their Father said that he'd been there since the nurse left. That was two hours earlier. They decided he needed fulltime care and brought him here.
Peter's father looked up, with an unfamiliar clarity that quickly switched to fear. "Peter?" "Where are we?" His eyes quickly looked around the room. "Can we go home?"
Peter felt happy and uneasy at the same time. He swallowed and fought off the tears. He had this conversation before and it always ended with his father slipping away again. He hated that moment. Peter held his father's hand and looked concerned at his father. His father squeezed it tightly.
"I think I'm losing myself, can you make it stop?"
Peter was taken by suprise by this. He did not quite know what to make of it. What did he mean by it? Was he seriously talking about...? No, Peter did not wanted to think about that and pushed away the thoughts.
"What if I end up like one of them?" He pointed, with a slight tremor in his hand, towards an old lady in the corner of the room. Her control over her own muscles had gone so much her tongue hang out just slightly and one hand hang beside the wheelchair she was in. Her mind was clearly gone so much she was reduced to nothing but a shell of a person. Peter had seen her deteriorate throughout the last two years he came here. At the beginning she was just like his father. Still walking around and telling everyone about her two daughters. One was a doctor and the other some famous actress. He could still remember that detail. He could be like her in two years. A part of Peter panicked, but he kept an appearance of calm to the outside world. To his father.
He took a sip of his tea and said, "What do you mean dad?" His father looked at him frightened and confused, clearly not fully understanding what Peter meant. "What do you mean by can you make it stop?" His father's confusion drew away and he took a breath. "I don't know, I just want it to stop. I don't like being like this." He started to get angrier the more he spoke. "Most of the time I have no idea what's going on." He paused.
"I miss painting. I wish they had paint here." His father stared sad across the room.
The emotions became to much for Peter and the tears flooded from his eyes. His father turned his head towards Peter. "Oh Peter, don't. Don't cry". Peter quickly wiped away his tears and said, "No no, I'm fine dad. I am. Really."
Peter took a moment to collect himself and looked at him again. His father was starring accross the room seemingly looking out the far window. "Dad?" His father looked at him confused. "John, what are you doing here?" Peter sighed and said, "No dad, it's me, Peter." "Peter?" A stare of dis-belief met Peter.
His father turned his head away again and continued to stare out of the far window. Peter didn't quite know how to deal with this and decided to leave. "Dad, I am gonna go now, ok?" said Peter, unsure if his father even understood him. Peter waited for a response. Nothing happened. His father just stared out of the far window.