This must never go away: ‘Modelling distracted the pain and approaching death’

Some objects seem worthless but have a lot of value to the owner. Because there‘s a special story or special memory attached to it.

At first glance, this vase does not really look like a precious possession. But for Carla van der Klaauw it is, because there is a whole story and especially a special person behind it.

More than forty years ago Carla worked as a B-nurse in training in a psychiatric hospital, the Willem Arntsz house in Utrecht. In the rehabilitation department stayed a patient, Piet, who had a brain tumor and often could not sleep at night from the pain.

โ€œ To distract himself, he then began to sculpt. I had regular night shifts and found him there all alone. Besides the tumor, he also had delusions that caused him a lot of fear. In our department, he felt safe due to the presence of professional staff. During my night shifts, we had intense conversations about life and the impending death.โ€

Carla had already done Nursing A, some life experience in his pocket, and did not disregard these subjects. Piet was an intelligent man who had studied social sciences and who at the end of his life had no desire to talk. He was very pleased with these exchanges of views, especially as his remaining time on earth was limited.

Just before he died, Piet gave this vase to Carla. He had sculpted it especially for her. โ€œStill every day when I see this vase, I think of Piet. It’s my most extraordinary possession, and no one is allowed to touch it. During various removals I always took him with my own hands, for fear that someone would drop him.โ€