Del with beloved pet Billy the Beagle
Del was reluctant to move into a retirement village. After seven years at Wellington Manor, she’s delighted to have been proven wrong.
Reservations about retirement living | Simply meant to be
Safety, security and support | A lovely place to live your next chapter
78-year-old Del Marsh grew up in Sydney in a family of four children; older sisters Jill and Evon and, younger brother Joe. Admittedly the more straightlaced of her siblings, Del was a devout churchgoer who, at 17-years-old, met the love of her life, John Marsh. The couple were married in 1962, with Evon by her side as her bridesmaid.
Reservations about retirement living
Over the next five decades, Del and John worked hard, raised two children, and made the most out of life with a vivacity that belied their years. So, when John let Del know he wanted to move into a retirement village, she was stunned.
“My husband wanted to move into a retirement village, but I didn’t. I thought I was too young and that retirement villages were just for old people!” said Del.
It wasn’t just the thought of living alongside a sea of grey hair that deterred Del. She was concerned about losing the luxury of space she had in her family home, as well as the thought of having to say goodbye to her beagle, Billy.
But John was persistent. And in the end, Del was delighted as he was. After touring a few local villages, the couple were drawn to Wellington Manor Retirement Village and made the move in 2014.
“I was concerned about downsizing into a smaller home. But I’m very happy with my two-bedroom villa. It’s very spacious, has a lovely private outdoor area, and I enjoy living in it very much.
“The good thing also about moving into this village, is that you can bring your pet. We’ve got a lot of pets in the village,” said Del.
Del, who still works as an accountant one day a week, also made sure the couple did their homework when it came to the financials.
“For us, there were no hidden costs. We took our contract to our solicitor and had it fully explained to us. So we knew exactly what we were doing. We knew that it wasn’t an investment financially, it was an investment in our future way of life,” said Del.
It’s a way of life that Del never expected to bring her so much joy. With plenty of activities on offer including croquet, bowls, table tennis and billiards, as well as regular social get-togethers and happy hours, life for Del is anything but quiet.
“I think maybe some people might think, that when they’re nearing the end of their life, they’ll spend it in the quietness of the village. But you can do as much as you want to do, there is so much going on in the village.
“You don’t have to worry about mowing the yard, doing the garden. John’s favourite thing was the sound of the lawnmower outside and he wasn’t having to push it,” jokes Del.
Del and John spent 18 wonderful months together in Wellington Manor before he suddenly passed away in 2016.
“That was a very difficult time because you’re a partnership and then all of a sudden you’re just you. I was half of something for so long and then… it was just me,” said Del.
Del was heartbroken. The life she’d imagined together in their older years had abruptly come to an end. But as fate would have it, a familiar face was to move in next door and help Del on the path to feeling whole again.
Simply meant to be
Del’s 80-year-old sister, Evon Hall, had lived in Sydney for 40 years managing the family’s trucking business before her husband Ken passed away in 2015.
After hearing of John’s passing, and missing her own partner of 63 years, she felt a magnetic pull to be with her sister. Evon decided it was time to pack up her home in the Blue Mountains and move to Queensland.
Remarkably, the villa next door to Del’s became available just as Evon’s house sold. Not only would the sisters be living in the same retirement community, they would be neighbours. It was simply meant to be.
“I’m extremely lucky because I have my sister right next door and she’s a very fun person. We get on so well, so we are always doing things together.
“We go to the pictures, we go shopping, we like to go out for coffee and explore different local coffee shops, and we like to eat out. Once a month we have morning tea, for people to gather and have a chat. We go to bowls twice a week here.
“We look at each other at least once a week and say ‘how lucky are we to be living in this lovely place’,” said Del.
Safety, security and support
After losing John, Del’s priorities for village life changed. Safety and security skyrocketed to the top of her list, as well as the ability to access care and support in the future, giving her – and her family – peace of mind.
“Security is top of my list and I really do feel safe here. It’s not just about gates and alarms, it’s about having people around you who look out for you.
“Your children don’t have to worry about you so much. They know that you are in a safe environment,” said Del.
And while Del and Evon are fighting fit at the moment, they’re comforted to know that help will be available on their doorstep if the time comes.
“We’re very fit right now, but I’m sure we will get to a stage where we’re doddery. We have talked about a time when maybe we can’t look after ourselves but I think we are in the perfect place for that because they are introducing home care in the village.
“It’s amazing to think we can stay here in our home and get care right here,” said Del.
A lovely place to live your next chapter
After chalking up seven years at Wellington Manor, Del has now wholeheartedly changed her opinion on retirement living.
“One of the reasons that I didn’t want to move into the village, I looked in on a sea of grey heads and I thought ‘no, no, no, no, I’m not ready for that’ and guess what, I’m now in there playing Hoy with those other people, even though I may not have grey hair myself.
“Really, it’s just a lovely place to live your older years. You might find you’re busier than you’ve ever been,” said Del.
Del admits she’s a different person to who she was before John passed away and is still on a journey to find out who she is without her other half.
“You think of your partner every single day, and you miss them every day, but you do have to start a new life,” said Del.
With sister Evon by her side, and the village community around her, Del has been able to live her life at Wellington Manor with a renewed sense of purpose.
“I think my purpose in life at the moment is to make the most of my life. I want my family to see me as a happy, strong person.
“My life here is so different, it’s just another chapter in my life and it’s a good chapter,” said Del.
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