Elaine Butler and Geraldine Lock became friends after they both moved to Shanagolden Retirement Village in Pakenham. They only met two years ago, but they joke and tease each other like old friends. They recently returned from a cruise around Europe.
I came to Shanagolden in January 2015 and have found a true friend in Geraldine. We met at morning tea one Tuesday and, after my husband John died, we started doing water aerobics together. It was in the pool, over exercise, that the topic of bucket lists came up and we started talking about doing a river cruise in Europe together.
I had an old school friend in England who I was still in contact with, and she said Geraldine and I would be most welcome if we wanted to come and visit. Before I knew it, we were booked and on our way. We spent one month and one day together travelling in England, Edinburgh and Paris before we boarded a river boat in Amsterdam on a 15-day journey to Budapest in Hungary.
It was absolutely beautiful. Neither of us had travelled much previously – although Geraldine did visit China the year before. I’m 80 and Geraldine is 70 and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her. But Geraldine said: “Don’t worry, I’ll be your carer”. I laughed because I’ve never had a carer in my life, I don’t need a carer. But Geraldine was wonderful, she really did look after me and my ego was bruised a bit, but there’s a big difference between being 70 and being 80.
I never in a thousand years would have thought that I would be going to Edinburgh and England and France, let alone travelling there with someone I’d only known for two years.
We were in the process of moving to Shanagolden when my husband passed away and I thought, I don’t think I can do this on my own. I made the move and it was the best decision; I feel so blessed to be around such a wonderful, supportive community.
Elaine moved in at about the same time as me and lives diagonally opposite. When her husband passed away, 18 months after I’d lost my husband, I remember thinking we’d better keep an eye on her. Elaine and I started talking about our bucket lists and eventually we decided to go cruising together in Europe. The day before we left, Elaine’s hearing aid broke and it was such a shame, but I made sure she was always kept in the loop.
Elaine was amazing, we did lots of walking and she kept up the whole time. By the last week, she was pretty tired but so was I. Everyone always asks what was the highlight, but I can’t answer that because the whole trip was just incredible. I loved the villages along the Rhine and the Danube, and Paris was also really special. We stayed near the Arc de Triomphe and walked up and down the Champs-Élysées every day, and we just couldn’t believe we were really in Europe – it was amazing.
Elaine is hilarious, she really is. We laugh and laugh and just bounce off each other all the time. The trip brought us closer together.