Us Two

Retired nurse, Dorothy O’Meara, 90, is one of the original residents of Corpus Christi Village in Clayton. Since the passing of her husband John, her friendship with Joan Waters, an ex-classical singer from Cairns, has deepened.  It’s connections like this one, that can make life in a retirement village that much richer.

DOROTHY

Joan and I talk every day. Just to check in. It’s nice that someone looks out for you when you’re on your own. It gives you a sense of security.

We are close but we also respect each other’s privacy. The only one that comes knocking at my door each day is Sister Shirley from across the road. She kindly helps me administer the drops I need in my eyes each evening.

Joan’s husband, Kevin, a marvel. If anything in my unit is broken, he will fix it. He does so much for everyone in the village.

Joan and I attend Mass together each week – but she’s better at it than I. We also go to ‘Happy Hour’ on Fridays at the Community Centre and other social activities. I enjoy Joan’s personality – she’s always warm and caring.

She might not reveal this but Joan was once a classical singer. She trained in Cairns, where she grew up. Joan has spent years performing, with her pianist friend, in aged care residences and other places. She’s very generous and gifted. But, she doesn’t perform anymore; your voice changes as you get older. I think she misses it.

I celebrated my 90th birthday last year. I had a party with family in the Yarra Valley. Joan turns 90 this year. Soon we’ll have that in common too.

JOAN

My husband and I moved into Corpus Christi seven years ago. We moved in on April Fool’s Day, but we weren’t fools – it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We chose Corpus Christi as it was close to where we’d been living in Oakleigh, where we built our family house, and raised our family. Kevin and I wanted to stay within our community and still see our friends. But, one of the best things about retirement living is the new friends you make.

One of the first neighbours I met was Dorothy. We had an instant connection and that connection developed into a happy friendship.

We quickly had a mutual understanding that we would look out for one another. I used to love to cook and we’d share many meals. Since Dorothy lost her husband three years ago, I felt she needed more support. Not that she’d say that. It’s just understood.

Dorothy might look frail, petite, but she’s a strong lady. She knows who she is. She also knows what’s going on in the world. It amazes me that she starts each day by reading The Age cover to cover. There are newspapers and magazines all over her table. She’s got a real thirst for knowledge.

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