Every Prestige Inhome Care carer who visits Jozeph is struck by his generous spirit and happy nature. Like many Prestige clients, Jozeph has led an extraordinary life and entertains his care team recounting some of the significant events in his life.
Jozeph was born in October 1922 and recently celebrated his 100th birthday. His upbringing in The Netherlands could be described as normal during the 20’s and 30’s, only to have it interrupted by the Second World War.
With the neighbourhood kids, he pulled pranks (like stringing a black cord across an entrance to a subway tunnel and laughing hysterically as the cord would whip off the top-hats of unsuspecting travellers) and played soccer on the streets in front of the stores, only to be waved off by the shopkeepers scared a stray ball would go through their window.
Jozeph enjoyed going about in the family car, helping his father with his butcher-shop and weekend car trips to the countryside.
But Jozeph’s life was profoundly impacted by the Holocaust. His personal survival story is of being hidden by loving and caring farmers. While obviously a troubling period in his life, Jozeph talks warmly of being a farmhand during the war. He learnt to milk cows, how to spin wool for the winter time, make cheese from milk, or on those cold winter mornings, leaning into the cows for their warmth and drinking a really fresh mug of just ‘milked’ milk.
Like many Holocaust survivors, Jozeph and his wife Cecilia found each other after the turmoil of the war and married in 1947. The young couple emigrated to South African in 1948 and had two children. Some of Jozeph’s South African tales are of his enjoyment fishing at a very popular spot in Cape Town called Rooikrans. The path down the mountain side was rather steep and arduous, but the experience of fishing from the ‘ledges’ for deep sea fish (one of the few places in the world where you can catch a deep sea fish from the shore) is always remembered by him with fondness.
A very active member of Green’s Point Tennis Club in Cape Town, Jozeph was a keen player and volunteer, spending a lot of time ferrying young players to their games, and even many years later meeting those same ‘young players’ as adults.
Following retirement, Jozeph started life over again in Australia in 1990. He has led a very active life on the tennis court, with the Lions Club, at the gym or by the billiard table. Most notably, Jozeph has spent a lot of time as an invaluable docent at the Melbourne Holocaust Museum where he shares his experiences as a Holocaust survivor with hundreds, if not thousands of students. His baking skills are legendary amongst his friends and at the museum – and many a neighbor on the street has been visited with a cake in hand. His well developed green fingers have produced many backyard pumpkins and South African squash, and, even as he receives in-home palliative care, he has a new ‘crop’ of squash growing out back.
The lack of a formal education is one of Jozeph’s enduring regrets, but to his credit, he has more than made up for it with his extensive general knowledge, and that, with an extraordinary memory, turns him at times into a walking encyclopedia.
The team at Prestige counts the opportunity to hear the rich life stories of clients as one of the joys of the job. We thank Jozeph and his son Michael for sharing Jozeph’s very special journey with us. From the carers and nurses that support him at home, to the team in the office, we all feel it is a privilege to be involved in assisting him to live his life as comfortably as possible.