Sometimes reading his newspaper and always impeccably, but casually dressed in country style.
This is Thorkild, a 97 year-old gentleman and nursing home resident.
I could tell he liked to spend time outside, because he sported a nice tan, and always smiling.In the 50’s and 60’s the bicycle was slowly but surely replaced by cars, but in a few cities, such as Copenhagen, the bicycle managed to pick up again in the late 70’s and early 80’s and today continues to be the most important means of transport.It’s still easier and more convenient than any other means of transport.And at some point, usually in our early 70’s, we stop cycling altogether.I have heard countless stories of how they reluctantly have had to give up cycling because they became afraid of crashing or being hit by a car door.
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The next day I received a phone call from the manager of the nursing home. and then quickly added: “Now all the other residents want a bike ride too! The experience must have had a profound effect on Gertrud. Passing through one of the parks he suddenly exclaimed: “I used to live in there” pointing to the old army barracks by Rosenborg Castle.And so I rented the rickshaw again and I started doing regular bike rides with the residents in my spare time. That was when I learned that he had been a royal guard for 18 months back in 1938, 76 years ago.All this made me think: The old man, Thorkild, he must miss cycling too – and then: How can I get him back on a bicycle?It was one of those ideas that just wouldn’t go away.It almost felt as if I had been on a time journey with her.
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And having dropped off the two ladies at the nursing home I left in a rare spirit.
As I entered, I was approached by a friendly-looking staff member and explained to her that I was a neighbour with a rickshaw and that I was offering the residents a ride.
That could have been the end of the story, but the kind employee said to me: “That sounds like a great idea. And then she disappeared into the coffee room – and reappeared two minutes later with an elderly lady under her arm and she said: “Gertrud and I would love a bicycle ride”.
So, one fine August morning I showed up unannounced at the nursing home equipped with a rented rickshaw.
I realised that it was a crazy idea and that, most likely, they would kick me out, but I was determined to give it a go.