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Lifelong love stories


Sunday, 04 October 2020

Our residents share their precious memories and lifelong wisdom from more than 70 years of love and marriage.

Our villages are home to people from all walks of life. And our residents have many stories to tell of family, travel, career success and, above all, love. 

We spoke with two happy couples who have been together for more than 70 years. John and Rene of Elliot Gardens and John and Wilma of Burwood Terrace share their love stories. And many pearls of wisdom for the younger generations.

John and Rene, residents of Elliot Gardens in South Australia

Elliot Gardens residents JOHN & RENE


How did you meet?

Rene: The year was 1943, John was on his way home on leave from the Navy, and I was on my way home on leave from the Women's Land Army. When our train reached Port Augusta station, we had to change to a bus to take us on to Whyalla, our hometown. We hadn't met each other at this point, but John saw me struggling with my baggage and a huge bunch of flowers I was bringing home for mum. He quickly offered to help carry my bags to the bus. 

This was the start of a 3-year romance by letter. 

We could only meet once a year when we were on leave. The rest is history, as they say.

What one thing do you wish you knew before marriage?

John: Having lost my mum when I was 9 years old, I had no other female influence in my life. I wish mum could have been there to guide and help me understand love and marriage. Thankfully after meeting Rene, she was able to show me.

Rene: I came from a very happy, loving and secure family, and I didn't know life to be anything different than the life I was living. I didn't think married life would be any different, and it wasn't.

What’s something you do every day to show you love each other?

Rene: We are always looking out for each other's wellbeing. And we never go to bed without kissing each other goodnight.

Learn more about Elliot Gardens, SA.


John and Wilma, residents of Burwood Terrace in Victoria

John and Wilma at Burwood Terrace. John wears a black suit, a red bowtie and a celebratory hat. Wilma wears a blue dress, stylish jewellery and a sparkly tiara.

John and Wilma began their courtship at the local dances in Oakley.

How did you meet?

Wilma: We met when I was 16 and John was 20. We would often go to the local dances in Oakley, where we lived at the time. He would come in with all his buddies, and I was there with my girlfriends. This went on for a few weeks when eventually, he asked if I'd like to come to his friend's engagement party. We were together for 4 years before we got married.

What advice would you give to couples who are thinking about marriage?

Wilma: Well, we didn't live together before we got married. We got to know each other as friends first before we decided to get married. It was a long, long courtship (Wilma laughs). 

I'd say creating a friendship first before considering marriage is my best advice.

John: Also, we're both very pragmatic people. For example, our birthdays are only a week apart. One year, when we were engaged, we decided we were going to gift each other saucepans for our birthdays. We needed to buy them for the wedding anyway. My mother was mortified (John laughs), she thought it was terribly unromantic. My point is that we were always on the same page when it came to things like that. So make sure your partner shares the same attitude as you. Wilma and I have always been pragmatic. None of this avocado-on-toast business!

What’s something you do every day to show you love each other?

John: First of all, flowers and chocolates don't work after a while (John laughs). We've virtually formed our own language. One that no one else can understand but us. We've butchered some words, and we just laugh about it.

Wilma: We'll be sitting together in companionable silence, which, to be honest, is few and far apart because we're quite sociable people. But when we do, I'll just look at John and say, 'We should do such and such,' and he'll say, 'I was just about to say that!'.

What do you enjoy about village life?

Wilma: We're very sociable people, and because unfortunately a lot of our family has passed, we've been lucky to make plenty of friends here in Burwood Terrace. We go to all the social events, and there isn't really a weekend when there isn’t something happening in the village. Sunday afternoons, for example, we all gather to chat and have a drink. There's a lot of drinking (John and Wilma laugh).

John: In other words, if there's a bus, we're on it!

John and Wilma remember driving past the gates to Burwood Terrace village and thinking to themselves, 'We're going to retire there one day.' And as Wilma says, 'We're very pleased we did!'

Learn more about Burwood Terrace, VIC.




For more information about the lifestyle and support offered at our retirement villages, call our customer service team on 1800 550 550.

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