Hendrik Groen is 83 1/4 years old. His body may be growing old, but his mind is as sharp as a tack. Hendrik has made the decision to write an expose he calls, a year in the life of the inmates at a care home in North Amsterdam. He has no intentions of leaving this world without a struggle.
His best friend is Evert Duiker, who lives around the corner in an independent retirement building with his dog, Mohammed. He has diabetes, which he doesn't watch and he also has gout. When he is unable to walk his dog, it is Hendrik who does. Evert comes to visit Hendrik every Sunday for a chat and a glass of something. Hendrik believes that the best way to enjoy old age is to surround yourself with friends and to keep busy.
Both Hendrik and his best friend, Evert, get together to form a club named the Old-But-Not-Dead club. It has rules and rule #3 states "No Whining Allowed'. There are six members in the club. Besides Hendrik and Evert, there is Edward, a man of few words. Because of a stroke, he is hard to understand. What he lacks in words, he expends in shrewd observation. Grietje is a really dear friendly person. She is computer savvy. Graeme always tells it to you straight. Eefje Brand is the new resident that just moved in. She is a breath of fresh air. She has trouble walking. She shuffles along, but she does it with style. Hendrik is smitten with her. He adjusts his tie, combs his hair, whatever is left of it, and purchases a men's perfume to impress her. Membership is closed. Hendrik has come up with a list of excursions for the club to enjoy. To name a few is a football game, a visit to Keukenhof tulip gardens to name a few and perhaps bungee jumping. The members are interested in starting a cooking class, if they can use their kitchen at the residence once a month. They would have to speak to the Director, Mrs. Stelwagen. If not, there is always the internet to find a kitchen for their needs. Each member plans a secret event for the group.
It is interesting to note that there is very little written about Hendrik's past. You can be sure that life hasn't been easy for him. Hendrik states that "the older people are, the more scared they are. At our age, there's nothing left to lose, so why not be fearless?".
Hendrik is charming, witty, kind and lovable. The Diary of Hendrik Groen is a very enjoyable and a laugh out loud book. I loved every moment of it. I might add that Hester Velmans translated this book to perfection. There is a follow-up story to this titled As Long As There is Life. I can highly recommend this book
This book is a pure delight, one of the most amusing things I've read in many years. Gruen is a sly, mischievous old guy with a sardonic view of his world and those around him. He is waging a full time battle against the seemingly endless unwritten "regulations" that govern the seniors residence where he lives. As a founding member of the "Old but Not Dead" club he and his band of fellow rebels are intent upon living their lives to the full. Gruen has brilliantly recreated the reality that many of us will face, with absolute honesty, courage, empathy and above all humor. By far the best thing I've read so far this year.
The humor and pathos intertwined in this book provides a great read. I recommend it for anyone reaching older age or engaged in caring for the elderly. The book is a romp and a reality and I enjoyed it all. Health care professionals could learn the thoughts of people who are elderly and still firing on several cylinders and offer them greater respect.
A most poignant and funny at the same time diary of life in a seniors care home... Every person getting close to the age where care homes become options should read this book... In fact, it should be required reading for the care givers at these facilities so that they can deliver care with less stress and anxiety for themselves and their clients. And perhaps with a bit of reflection about this experience when their time comes to be in care.