Decide for yourself how your life goes, and preferably how it ends. That’s what everyone wants, but certainly not everyone is given. Roughly speaking, there are two scenarios: keep autonomy or become dependent. We saw both options on TV on a Tuesday evening. Let me start with the worst ending. Dementia sneaks into a life secretly and often unexpectedly. The disease is not immediately fatal, but it is debilitating for a long time.
Actor Adelheid Roosen and writer Hugo Borst previously made two series about dementia, the third Roosen & Borst is called Goodbye to your dreams† Saying goodbye starts with the diagnosis, they say. They follow Joris, 52 years old. In a previous life he drove around the world for Doctors Without Borders in a Land Rover. Now his bunches of keys are tied to his belt and he has no idea how to set the table. The worst part is, he knows he’s losing himself, but he’s too far gone to avoid what he never wanted: out of his own home and into a nursing home.
Hugo Borst repeats his mantra once more: “If I can no longer wipe my ass myself, I don’t need it anymore.” Life, he means. Joost, husband of Mine (67) who is running backwards, says that he will still talk to him by then. It’s not that easy, he just wants to say. Because who decides when? Mine wants to keep ‘it’ as long as possible, she says. Preferably at home. Mrs. Bot has just blossomed since living in a nursing home. Borst, next to her on the bed, asks if she is always this cheerful. Sure, she says. “I do whatever I want.”
‘Don’t do it yourself’
Doing what I want, Emmy Postma (62) is also dead in the mouth. “Ikke do it yourself”, she says, were once her first words. In 2020 she and husband Rutger (72) filled an episode of I leave† She was “infatuated” with a sixteenth-century castle in the Dordogne. Rutger saw “one big ruin”, she saw “a lot of possibilities”. She bought it, for three tons, to restore it and turn it into a chambres d’hôtes. She went to live there, but Rutger didn’t. He lives on a houseboat in Naarden.
After Chateau Meiland and the Scheetjes family on Bonaire is Castle Lady Emmy a third ‘spin-off’ of the series about departing Dutch people. Emmy alone is at least as full-fledged as the entire Meiland family put together. In the three years that she has lived at the castle, she has renovated two rooms (out of ten). Guests stay there. So Emmy provides breakfast, drinks and a three-course dinner. In the meantime, she is planting a vegetable garden on the six hectares around her castle. Horse manure, ashes from the fireplace and compost. Hark, rake. She still has to delve into which vegetables should go to which soil, but above all she thinks that “the plants should not complain too much” because this piece of land has always been a vegetable garden. And through. The electrician doesn’t show up. The architect does. He keeps a cool head, mumbles something about “a big project” and casually inquires whether she knows what she has started. If not, she’s crazy. If so, she’s brave.
Rutger meanwhile undergoes knee surgery in the Netherlands. His daughters pack his things, because he has decided to go to Emmy and her castle after all. Half a year, is the intention. His daughters are very curious if that will work. Very clever, they think, that their father has found a woman who is even more stubborn than he is.
It’s cheerful television, about a woman who you find alternately crazy and wonderful. One who would rather soak her guests’ bedding in the bath than buy a new machine for a lot of money. That window frames are chipping, while the roof is about to collapse. Everything for the preservation of her “girl dream”.