By Nat Power
Edna runs the local Probus Gardening Club, where a bunch of garden devotees convene once a month to chat everything plants. Edna, herself, has a large manicured backyard and tends to all the plants and flowers herself, offering cuttings to her fellow members. She leaves the big jobs to a handyman. At 89 years she is clear that getting out in her garden is keeping her physically dexterous and mentally sane. Probus is one of 3 gardening clubs she frequents, but her inclination to nature isn’t the only thing keeping her grounded.
Following 2 hip replacements and a back operation she became a regular at Connect Health for hydrotherapy treatment, where she made new friends in treatment as well as becoming a favourite amongst staff. She jumped at a volunteering opportunity that would utilise her keen understanding of movement as part of a lifelong commitment to callisthenics. From when she was 5 she trained in callisthenics and travelled to a regional centre taking part in yearly competitions until she was a teenager. Edna, along with her friend, assists with the physical exercise in the hydrotherapy pool which she believes is a saviour in physical recovery.
Edna was part of a ‘typing pool’ working in government but she told me her life changed the moment she was recommended for a position with a chemistry professor at Monash University. He was all for self-made professionals and they worked together for 30 good years. It gave her great independence and purpose in addition to the responsibility she already enjoyed in raising a family. All the neighbours’ kids went to Monash too and she would drive them and see them on campus, she describes it as an enjoyable place to work.
And then there’s Edna’s friendships. Her best friend lives in Queensland. They travel to visit each other as regularly as possible. Edna and her husband owned a caravan and would long haul to visit their friends on the Sunshine Coast. Her friends husband was a metallurgist who travelled around Australia at regular intervals which enabled Edna and Keith to follow on their yearly holidays, including Darwin, Papua New Guinea and Rum Jungle. As Edna prepares for her 90th birthday this year, her friend has committed to traveling south for the celebration.
There is a theme here of great commitment, commitment to living a life. There was real ‘get up and go’ in Edna’s tone, her work ethic didn’t depart with retirement, instead it has made her more determined to busy herself with volunteer work, her garden and her extended family which includes 2 great grandchildren. She balances the support she gets from her children, like a mandatory Netflix subscription service with the support she provides for others. She is alive and well because of a life of service and her dedication to optimism.
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