No armchair for Truus at 91

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No armchair for Truus at 91

April 16, 2018

Truus de Man might be 91 but she isn’t sitting in her ‘armchair waiting for the end to come’. No way. Instead, she’s still in the thick of things with her family and the communities she has been a part of through the decades.

Truus has been at Leith Park for 19 years, but spent most of her family life a couple of streets away. The people, streets, shops and gardens are all familiar to her and she loves it.

She is one of the oldest residents at Leith Park and has made some dear friends over the years.  It took Truus a few months to settle in but she soon came to love the gardens around her unit, the privacy and independence and the many activities on offer. She is also pretty good at finding her way in a new place.

Truus and her husband, John, came to Australia from Holland more than 70 years ago. It was just meant to be for a few years, but they decided to stay, believing Australia would be a good place to raise a family. For them the memories of a post war Europe were too raw.

Truus didn’t know a word of English when she came, but soon overcame that hurdle with support from John and friends and a streak of stubborn determination. She soon taught herself to read and write English.

Their first stop in Australia was Geelong where John was a lift mechanic and later a lift inspector. The family, with limited money, eventually moved with their four sons to a one-bedroom house in Eltham. It was tight, but they were happy days, and they managed until they could afford a bigger home.

After a few years they moved to Greensborough and Truus was drawn into many community groups supporting her sons in their sporting, civic and social interests. She loves meeting people and is a born storyteller so making friends was never a problem. Truus is able to keep connected, healthy and active because of the active commitment that OCAV has to enabling all of its residents to remain independent and active for as long as possible, regardless of age.

These days she still catches up with her many friends at Leith Park and the surrounding area. Her son, Lex, joined the Yarrambat Fire Brigade as a volunteer when he was 18. His mother dutifully supported his commitment whenever she could, earning her Ladies Auxiliary Life Membership in 2004.

“I made friends when the boys were in scouts and my husband was the scout master and at school the parents joined in to help keep things going with catering and fundraising. I really like people and doing things,” Truus said.

“When you leave your country and your home and you don’t speak any English, you have to decide to get in and make it work. I have met so many lovely people and I still enjoy seeing them.”

Truus has been part of Nillumbik Probus for 20 years and has served as president and vice-president and is still on the committee. Not bad for someone who landed without a word of English!

“I know it sounds funny for someone of my age to say, but I am busy, and I’m not sitting in my armchair waiting for the end to come,” Truus said. “I am the last of a very big family that stayed in Holland and I am aiming for 100 here in Australia.”

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