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The Life Story of James Smith

James is 81 years old. He was married to another Includid resident, Dinera Smith until her death in late 2012.He was one of the earliest residents to move form living in hospital to a group home.

James tells his story...
(in his own words)

My life with my wife (Dinera Smith)
Dinera and James were a married couple and residents of Includid Group Homes. Dinera was born Dinera van Niekerk, on the 20th of May 1937 in South West Africa. James was born on the 5th of May 1933 in London. The two met at Alexandra Hospital in ward 6 many years ago.

James was very naughty during his childhood. He once broke his father's hammer and then tried to fix it again, but when his father used it the hammer broke. He was grounded thereafter and forbidden from the bioscope (cinema).

He got bitten by a dog on his arm while playing. He meant to pick up his ball but instead picked up the dog's bone and the dog grabbed and bit his arm.

James went to the bioscope with his granny frequently and he enjoyed it. That was where his Dad would always find him.

James came to Alexandra Hospital at the age of 12. He was placed on ward 3 and then 5. It was very nice in the olden days. We used to polish the passageway up and down. I had lots of friends. Our beds were all in a row like dormitories. Every Saturday we went to the main bathroom opposite the boiler house to take a shower. We could shower any day we wanted to.

Every Sunday everyone would line up with a nurse to take a walk through Valkenberg, Lisbeek Park and Observatory all the way to Groote Schuur Hospital where we would stop to rest and have sandwiches.

We ate nice food at Alexandra; jelly, ice cream. On a Sunday at 6.00 p.m we had to mix peanut butter and syrup together and stir it in a big basin. Afterwards we would get to choose 4 or 6 slices of the bread with a serving of the peanut butter syrup mix and a jug of coffee.

We wore khaki pants, blue jerseys and boots that were all supplied by the hospital. If our boots were broken they would send them to the workshop for repairs.

In old block 7 we used to have a bioscope every Thursday. The first film we had was called 'The Sound of Music". It was very nice. We got a packet of sweets and those who smoked got tobacco and Flag cigarettes. The nurse would shine a torch to see what the girls and boys were doing (kissing).

We got 4 boxes with strings in it which we used for horse-shoe bags. Would put the string through the bag and tie it. When the string was up we packed the horse-shoe bags into the boxes and took it to the tuck-shop where we got coupons that we could buy anything with. I bought a shirt, pants, socks and a camera, If you broke a window you got punished. All your belongings and entertainment was taken away. You were put in a night gown and into the strong room for the night until the day staff came on shift. Once a month they would go home for the weekend and come back by Monday.

James attended Simons Town Secondary School from sub B to standard 10. Dinera threw away all his certificates one day when she was cleaning. They had fun at school. He later went to boarding school in Gardens, a school that was run by nuns. He had lots of friends. He used to do sketching at school.

Dinera lived with her parents. She had a good relationship with her mother. When she was 2 years old her mother would hide her in her pram away from her father, because he didn't like my Dinera. When she was 4 years old she would go shopping for her mother. Dinera was the eldest of 4 children. On her way home from school once, a monkey bit her on the side of her face.

When she was older she was in Port Elizabeth and she sought help from the social worker there. Some people ill-treated and pinched her. They also took away her money to come back to Cape Town. The social workers there arranged for her to come back. She came to Alexandra Hospital when she was 14 years old. Her first ward was ward one.

Dinera used to live in Highgate Street. When she turned 17 a lady named Alice threw her a big party.

James and Dinera used to clean at Highgate house, Alexandra Hospital in the ward, in Ndabeni and for a private home in Highgate Street. Dinera used to cook, clean and did ironing. James did gardening, carpentry and attended workshops where he would fix windows and benches etc.

Dinera and James were married at the big Afrikaans church in Cape Town Gardens. They were married for 30 years. The people of Alexandra attended their wedding on a rainy day. Many years ago the ACVV (Maitland) bought them clothing and supplied them with appliances.

James and Dinera were well respected in their community and they were an inspiration not only to the individual, but also to a couple about to vow. They enjoyed buying movies with the money they earnt. James fancies karate movies and the A-team, Dinera enjoyed comedies.

James and Dinera used to enjoy sports. Dinera always participated and always came first in her races. She also sang in a concert. Both James and Dinera enjoyed being at a part of Includid Group Homes. They used to attend the Maitland Community NG Kerk and sing in church.

At Includid Group Homes Dinera used to sew lavender bags, cut paper, make beads and sews banners and skirts etc. She was a very good at what she did. James cuts paper and mixes mulsh to make handmade paper. Both enjoyed their work. Dinera used to clean the toilets and make tea for the residents.

James and Dinera used to dream of eating at Spur and going out to lots of different places. Dinera loved ribs at Spur and James loves hamburgers.

My new life experience after my life passed away
My wife, Dinera Smith passed away by the 2nd of November 2012. My wife was extremely good at home. She had an appointment to go to the hospital. She woke up early in the morning by the 2nd of November 2012 on Friday to prepare herself for to go to the hospital. She prepared a breakfast early in the morning for us and she was complaining about the pains was in her breast.

In the morning she left for the hospital with a support worker at around about 6:30am. After my wife left the house, I woke up to prepare for to going to work. While I was at work in the morning at 10:00am, one of Employment Training Coordinator called me for to go to the office. I was a bit nervous I thought maybe I didn't come to work on time she is going to deduct my money or I didn't follow the work rules. She told me that they had some bad news in the morning about my wife who passed away this morning while she was on her way to see the doctor at the hospital.

I felt so upset and I couldn't believe what she was telling me, after sometime I calmed myself down although it was not something that is easy to accept. The time that I was in the office and heard about my wife, who passed away, I didn't take it serious I thought they are playing fool with me. The Group Home Assistant manager kept on explaining what happened to my wife. I started to believe that my wife passed away on the train while she was on her way to the hospital in the morning.

When I clean our house that's where all the memories of my wife comes on. I miss those days we had a nice time at home, we normally took a shower together and I miss my wife very much when I start to think about her food she used to cook for us at home.

I miss her all the time when it's time for going out, I go watch movies at Parow Centre alone these days. One of our pets always misses her. I am not happy with the fact that I won't be doing my house shopping as I used to together with my wife. We used to go together every Wednesday for doing house shopping.

Hannes one of the residents at Includid was very familiar with both of us and he became to be one of our friends while we used to live with him. I prefer that he move in to my house and live with me, that will be much better. My memories of my wife will eventually goes slowly in my mindset.

Even at work when I see the table where we used to seat together with my mind start to think about her very much. I cannot forget those days I used to go out for weekends and visit one of our friends. Ever since my wife passed away the communication between me and them became less as they used to arrange with my wife and discuss with her for the weekends visit. I am no longer contacting with them and they also not contacting me for to visit them.

In my mindset I always tell myself that I am still married with my wife although it's been a while passed away and I won't get married again. I won't even take off the wedding ring in my finger that is a sign of showing respect/love of my marriage.
James' video life story
James, telling us
his life story
James' wife Dinera
James's wife Dinera
James and his wife Dinera
James and his wife Dinera
James and Dinera
James and Dinera
Dinera during one of Includid's projects
Dinera during one of
Includid's projects
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