Love is in the air

Older couples in aged care facilities all around the country show younger folk how its done with plenty of Valentine’s Day celebrations and commmorations of their own.

Above: Hugh and Joyce Mitchell from St Paul’s Lutheran Aged Care in Caboolture (Queensland)

By Yasmin Noone

Get out and about in any major city or town centre today and people watch for a few minutes. No doubt you’ll see both females and males bearing long-stem roses, pop-up flower stalls set up kerb-side, gift shops decked out in red and white and restaurants packed to capacity.

Even if you did not realise or remember that February 14 is Valentine’s Day, it won’t take you long to notice that ‘love is in the air’.  

Marking an age-old tradition of worldwide celebration, V-day (as it is commonly referred to) is a date recognised and revered by people of all ages, including seniors. Fittingly so, love is spilling out from the streets and into the sector, as couples living in residential aged care facilities around the country commemorate the occasion.

St Paul’s Lutheran Aged Care in Caboolture (Queensland) is but one facility which has several couples living on-site together.

Hugh Mitchell, aged 101, and his 95-year-old wife, Joyce – who live alongside each other at co-located St Paul facilities – will today celebrate their 67th Valentine’s Day as a married pair.

Mrs Mitchell plans to take her short daily stroll from her low-care home through the grounds of the village to visit her beau in his neighbouring high-care suite for some quality time together.

In the evening, the love-birds will attend a Valentine’s Day Ball at St Paul’s along with around 60 residents from other local aged care services.

“We understand each other and always talk matters over and work as a team,” Mr Mitchell says.

“You can’t have your own way all the time and you should try and do the right thing between you as a couple and be supportive,” Mrs Mitchell adds.

The duo met in England when Mr Mitchell served in the 464th squadron flying a Mosquito in bombing raids over Germany in World War II. Mrs Mitchell worked as a Women’s Auxiliary Force clerk at the airbase.

After surviving the depression and leaving England behind, the war bride had to adapt to isolated conditions in Normanton, a small cattle town in north-west Queensland’s Gulf Country. It was there she baked her own bread and waded across the flooded Norman River to reach the hospital to give birth to her first child.

The couple have three children and three grandchildren. Their eldest grand-daughter has carried on the flying tradition as a squadron leader with the Royal Australian Air Force. 

From Qld to NSW

Tall Trees Ocean View at Banora Point (NSW), is home of nine couples in their seventies, eighties and nineties. This is because the provider’s style of supported living enables older couples to stay together in the later years of life even if they have different care requirements.

Ocean View residents, Blue and Doreen Godbee are overjoyed by the fact that they get to share another Valentine’s Day with each other after 56 years of marriage.

“We met in ’53 at a wedding – that’s where the romance began and we got married two years later,” Mr Godbee says.

“I worked in the Airforce for 20 years which saw us move from Queensland to New South Wales to the Northern Territory to Victoria over time.

“…After retirement we lived in Kingscliff for 28 years, then built a home in Banora Point where we lived for a while but in the end it became too much for us to handle.”

The couple said they moved into the Tall Trees apartment because it allowed them to stay together.

“We moved in almost two years ago and we’re so happy together here. We ride our double-scooter in and around town, as well as down to Kingscliff to touch base with old friends there.

“Doreen and I make a great team – she navigates and I drive, and it’s just really nice having those trips together.”

Recent newly-weds Alister and Lorna Arnott will be celebrating their first Valentine’s Day this year as husband and wife after getting married on 11 November last year.

“We met nine years ago and have been together all that time, but thought it was a good time last year to get married,” Mr Arnott says.

“We both looked after each other during sickness, but when I had four operations in the one year in 2007 was when we decided to make the move in here.

“Although she was in great health at the time we were still able to be together as well as have assistance if we needed it.

“We love having guests over to entertain and go down to the local bowls club regularly for a game.”

Tags: banora-point, caboolture, love, lutherean, pauls, st, tall-trees, valentines,

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