”A lot of us come from Jutland, so we don’t have many relatives”
We visited 88 year old Bent Vejsgaard Jensen, who lives at Klosergårdens nursing home in Østerbro, for a conversation about life, dead and the vigil service’s work in the nursing home.
Bent Vejsgaard Jensen currently resides in the newly constructed Klostergårdens nursing home in Østerbro. He has lived here for the last 20 years, and he was there when they moved from the former now-closed nursing home, Kildevæld. Bent was a trained farmer. He worked as a foreman on various properties, and for a period, he worked on his family’s farm, where he managed the crop farming while his brother took care of the livestock.
“My brother was older, and he was supposed to take over the farm, but it was hopeless to take over a farm back then. Nowadays, people complain about high interest rates, but back then you had to pay 20% in interest. That’s why I went to India to study. It was an advantage when I was studying that I had so much practical knowledge. Even though there were some subjects where they didn’t want us because we sometimes protested when it wasn’t true – the things they said in class,” he says.
Bent spend two years in India, and he considers this period to be some of the most meaningful in his life. During his stay he worked as an agricultural advisor at three different agricultural schools.
He meet his wife while he was studying, and they were married for 30 years. She worked as an office assistant at the University of Copenhagen and later got a job at the University of Odense when Bent started working as a teacher and mentor at the university.
INVOLVED IN INTRODUCING THE VIGIL SERVICE AT THE NURSING HOME
When his wife’s daughter moved to Copenhagen, he also did. Even though he isn’t particularly fond of Copenhagen, as he originally is from Jutland.
However, he is content with living in the nursing home: “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here”, he says in a straightforward manner.
Bent is a determined person, he knows what he wants. Therefore, if he is dissatisfied with something at the nursing home, he does what he can to change it. He has, for instance, accomplished this through his role as the chairman of the residents’ council.
For example, there was a day when they served split pea soup on flat plates in the cafeteria, and Bent couldn’t accept it:
He humorously states, “So, I gave the chef a good talking to, and since then he hasn’t made split pea soup.”
However, there were other matters beyond food that he helped change through his work in the residents’ council. For example, the council had numerous meetings and discussions, which ultimately led to the decision that residents in the nursing home should not be alone in their final moments.
This brought Red Cross Copenhagen’s vigil service into the picture. The decision was made in Kildevæld nursing home 12-13 years ago. At that time, Bent was the chairman of the residents’ council, which is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
THE FINAL DAYS SHALL BE SPEND IN THE NURSING HOME
Bent Vejsgaard Jensen wishes to spend his final days in Klostergårdens nursing home. He has made an agreement with the director about how his final days should be.
“I have experienced death up close – both with my wife, who passed away at Kildevæld nursing home and my sister and brother-in-law, and I was present at both times when they passed,” he says.
Bent also mentions that they generally talk a lot about death in the nursing home, and it’s important for him that it shouldn’t be a taboo.
At Kildevæld nursing home, they had an event where some lawyers came to assist in writing wills, so several residents were able to create a will at a reasonable cost.
“It is something you should make sure to get done in time. The most important thing for me in my final days is to take care of things that need to be taken care of – like making a will and such matters. Otherwise, I have a relaxed attitude towards death,” Bent says.
Bent has seen that the vigil service at the nursing home, and he has met them on several occasions. He believes that it appears to work well.
“A lot of us come from Jutland, so we don’t have many relatives,” He says.
We asked Bent if we can come back for a follow-up interview in six months and to that he replied, “I don’t make long-term plans anymore. I take one day at a time.”