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Tales from Tawa: Thinking Of The Future

...“I think perhaps we should look at moving to a retirement village,” my husband said out of the blue....

Eve-Marie Wilson and her husband took a look at a reirement village in Wellington, New Zealand.

Were they impressed?

Read on...

“I think perhaps we should look at moving to a retirement village,” my husband said out of the blue.

Incredulous, I looked up from the book I was reading. “What?” I said. “You want us to go and live in an old people’s home?”

“No,” my husband replied, “not an old people’s home, a retirement village. There is a difference.”

I knew very well what a retirement village was, but I was just choosing to be obtuse.

“Why on earth would we want to do that?” I asked.

“I’d liked to see you settled should anything happen to me,” he replied.

“You want to dump me in an old ladies home? Thanks very much.”

He went on to suggest moving to a retirement village might be a nice change of life style for both of us. “We could still live independently, but we would be relieved of mundane day to day tasks such as home maintenance and gardening.” He told me how retirement villages had swimming pools and bowling greens and how they arranged outings, concerts and guest speakers for the residents. “You like holidaying on a cruise ship,” he said “well, it would be much the same as that, but instead of a cabin you have your own home.”

“I’m too young.” I said, dismissing the subject by returning to my book.

“I’ve heard some people living there still go out to work,” he countered.

“I don’t want to move, I am quite happy living here,” I said in my ‘subject closed’ voice.

“Well I think it is something we should consider for the future.” he mumbled.

He looked so crestfallen, I relented and agreed perhaps he could make an appointment for us to go and visit a retirement village to see if what he envisaged met with reality. “But you won’t like it,” I warned.

The first decision to be made was which retirement village to visit. Wellington, the city in which we live, has a scarcity of flat land, so the living accommodation in retirement villages is in the form of double or triple storied apartment blocks. Any with independent villas set among beautifully manicured gardens, are miles from the city and all it has to offer. After mulling this over for a few days, we decided as we had no desire to move away from the city, it would make sense to make an appointment to view the nearest retirement village to where we currently live.

When we told our friends we were going to have a look at this particular village, without exception, they advised against living there as it was one of the coldest, most windy, exposed parts of Wellington. Our current home is in one of the warmest and most sheltered parts of the city. Consequently, we were in a negative frame of mind when we arrived at the village.

The situation continued to deteriorate from the moment we stepped in the door. The place immediately reminded me of an institution. There were wheelchairs and walking frames stored near the main entrance and the smell of bulk produced institution food wafted from the kitchen. As we sat and waited for the sales manager, the residents I could see were those who lived in serviced accommodation because they were no longer capable of living independently. All were very old, and female. All sat rather aimlessly doing nothing in particular. The staff looked more my age than the residents! My husband really does want to put me in the old ladies home, I thought!

The sales manager finally arrived and escorted us to the wing containing the independent living apartments, where she had arranged for us to see through an apartment on the second floor.

I was prepared to have to down size if we moved, but the apartment was even smaller than I imagined. The lounge would have accommodated the two couches currently in our family room, the television and maybe a small four seater table and chairs. Every other piece of furniture from our reception rooms would have to go. There was no room for my china cabinet which meant my treasured collection of Limoges china and Venetian glass would end up sitting forlornly on display in an antique shop or, horror of horrors, grace a stranger’s china cabinet. The china plates I had collected as souvenirs from forty plus years of travelling the world would probably end up in the rubbish dump. Who else would want them? Then there were my books. There was no room for bookshelves, so they would have to go too.

There was one small cupboard for storage which meant most of my linen would have to go. And where did one store such items as spare blanket and pillows, suitcases, photo albums and the vacuum cleaner? I started to panic. If I lived to be as old as my father, I would be confined in this small space for 30 years!

I was tempted right then and there to say, this is not for me and make my escape, but the owners of the apartment had kindly let us into their home, so I smiled and remained gracious.

There were two bedrooms. One was very small, but the other would have accommodated our bedroom furniture. However, there was no way the wardrobe would have been big enough for all my clothes and my shoes. That was the bottom line, I was not getting rid of them.

After we had thanked the owners of the apartment for opening their home up to us, I asked the sales manager if there was a garage for our car. “One could become available,” she said, “but there may be quite a wait until this happened. Of course,” she added, “there would be an extra charge for garage space.” She then took us to see the garages. We went down in the elevator to the ground floor and then across a court yard to a row of garages. Living here was looking less and less likely. Why would I want to swap the double garage with internal access to the house, which I have now for the shared half of a garage where I had to cart my shopping across a court yard, up in an elevator, then along a corridor to an apartment? I could see even my husband was starting to blanche at the thought of this.

Before we sat down with the sales manager to discuss the finances involved, we were shown the indoor heated swimming pool, the gym, the bowling green, the movie theatre, the dining room where residents can get a meal if they don’t feel like cooking, the internal atrium and the sumptuously decorated lounge. They failed to move me.

Once we were safely back home my husband who, like most men, dislikes to be proved wrong, meekly tried to argue by moving there we would be buying a lifestyle. He reluctantly agreed space was ‘a bit tight’ and he really couldn’t cope without his double garage. “Let’s say,” he said, “the time to down-size is not yet right.” So we agree to review the subject in five or so years.

Somehow, I don’t think the matter will be raised again.


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