Christine comes ‘home’ after a life of travel

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Christine comes ‘home’ after a life of travel

February 24, 2021

After a lifetime of travel, Christine Gage knows that there is no place like home.

She finally ‘arrived’ at Braeside Park in 2019 after receiving a call from the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria letting her know that a unit had become available.

“It was the call which saved my life,” Christine said.

She had been living in Berwick since 1989 driving and walking past the Braeside Park village unaware of the retirement community behind the gates. And she remained ignorant until mid-2016 when she was on an organised tour in the Kimberleys in Western Australia.

“I found myself in an intense discussion about retirement living for single people with limited assets and finances with other travellers, and that is when I heard of the association,” she said.

One of the first things she did when returning to Berwick was to call Braeside Park and put her name down. Then the wait list was six years, which suited her.

“I was one year into retirement, planning many more outback Australian journeys, playing pennant lawn bowls twice a week and as many tournaments as I could, travelling to Shepparton, Moama, Echuca, Phillip Island, Bendigo and anywhere else I could talk anyone into going with me,” Christine said.

To say she loves lawn bowls is an understatement. She is a lawn bowls champion having won the Ladies’ pairs in the Masters Games in Alice Springs with her cousin, Rosemary.

In many ways, Alice Springs was when the travel bug took Christine. In her mid 50s, she enjoyed a two-week holiday to the heart of Australia, and loved what she saw. A year later, she left her job in Melbourne, packed the car and headed to Coober Pedy.

“I had organised nothing, I had no job to go to, no home to stay in, I just went and it was the best decision ever.”

Footloose, she worked in Coober Pedy for seven months at the Desert Cave Hotel, moved to Alice Springs working at the Crowne Plaza then Peter Kittle Motors, next stop was Darwin where she worked at Gulf Transport.

“During those four years, I took as many tours, balloon flights, helicopter sight-seeing jaunts and light planes as I could before returning to Berwick and the call which saved my life,” Christine said.

“I had had a battle with cancer in 2018 which was a wake-up call about how quickly things can go wrong,” Christine said.

Although she felt she was a bit young at 69 to be going into a retirement style unit, when she saw the unit she knew it was for her. The renovations that were being done would benefit me for many years and I only had a small garden to look after.”

For the first six months at Braeside Park, Christine was loving retirement living. She was at Aqua Classes early morning and off to lawn bowls most days. She looked after her granddaughter, Ryan Olivia and loved catching up with her daughter, Shelley.

And then the world as she had known it ended. Her cancer returned with a vengeance, and she faced the news that it was terminal weeks before COVID-19 hit.

“Not being able to move freely was devastating,” she said.

Undaunted, and with the help of the Braeside Park team and residents, Christine worked to transform her back patio into a place of peace, contentment and joy.

In August Christine was given the opportunity to participate in a Phase I, Immunology clinical trial, which she seized.

Reflecting on the past year, Christine has no doubt that Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria has got her to where she is now.

“I couldn’t have better care, attention and support and willingness of management to work with the different government departments, and palliative care providers that I now require hopefully on a short-term basis to get back to a new normal,” she said.

Not one for clichés, Christine admits that the phrase ‘when one door closes, another opens’ is a truism for her.

“I have lovely neighbours who care about me, a garden that everyone can enjoy, and with lockdown nearly over, there will always be a cuppa going on my patio.”

 

 

"There is nothing I would change that would make my life any better. I have two loving sons and family and I thank God every day that OCAV took me in when I had nothing," said Jill Dale, Braeside Park resident.

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