Allan and Linda’s story – How they sidestepped loneliness and bumped into love
Loneliness has become all too common among our seniors, but behind our village gates, it barely seems possible. “You’d have to work very hard to be lonely in this village” says Allan Rivers of Bridgewater, “You’re only lonely in this village if you want to be left alone, and people do respect your privacy if you feel like being left alone, but generally people are caring and they tend to look after their own where and when they can.”
Allan and his wife Linda are a testament to the importance of surrounding yourself with a vibrant social community. They met in the village and in March of this year they tied the knot among close friends and family.
Theirs is a love story, but the story would have been very different, had they not made the move to Bridgewater. A few weeks before the wedding, we had a chat to Allan and Linda and found out how they came to find each other over a game of carpet bowls.
Three years ago, Allan found himself alone after he lost his wife to Alzheimer’s. They’d been living at Bridgewater for nine years, so Allan had a very strong support network, but picking himself up again was never going to be easy. “Well, after you’ve lost a loved one I think your life goes on hold. It’s a case of you either stand still or you decide well I’m gonna do something. I think if I hadn’t met Linda I’d still be standing still.”
Linda was relatively new arrival to the village and had been living by herself north of the river. She moved south to Bridgewater in Mandurah without knowing a single soul. “When I turned seventy I thought ‘there’s more to life than this!’, so I decided to go ‘round and look at Lifestyle Villages. When I came to this one it just had something about it. … My friends over north said ‘Ooh you’ll be scared’, ‘You won’t know anyone’, but no, I don’t look back.”
“People are so friendly here. I got involved in theatre with a friend and I was playing skittles, walking, playing carpet bowls, snooker . . . when there were socials you didn’t really like going on your own, but people said, ‘come along! come along!’ – so I did. …. It’s great.”
It was just that kind of social encouragement that led Allan to try something a little out of his comfort zone. “I was talked into playing indoor carpet bowls which I always thought was a bit of a geeks game and I thought well I’ll give it a go. … I’ve got to be honest, I’ve told most people this, I saw Linda there laughing and joking and I thought well I’m going to have that!” laughed Allan, “At my age you’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot!”
There’s a cheeky gleam in Allan’s eye as remembers that day, something we suspect Linda found irresistible, “We got talking,” said Linda, “and then one day he said, ‘would you like to come and have a glass of wine with me?’ Which I did. We got on really really well, had quite a few glasses of wine and dinners, going out and socialising with the people here. And that’s sort of what it’s been like ever since!”
From all accounts, Linda and Allan have been quite inseparable since that day. Allan proposed on Linda’s Birthday last year and they scheduled their wedding for the very same date. When we spoke before the wedding, they were planning a trip to Tasmania. “Tassie’s an experiment,” Allan said, “Two weeks in a campervan. If we’re still getting married when we come back after that you know it’s fine!”
As it turned out Tassie was a tough test indeed. It was rainy and stormy the whole time so the camper van didn’t turn out to be the best choice of accommodation. Despite the close quarters (or perhaps because of them?) we’re happy to report the wedding went ahead as planned.
Linda says they didn’t want anything big or overdone. They had a lovely indoor ceremony in Mandurah with family and friends. It was great fun with plenty of laughs and none of the nerves you might expect “I’ve done this before!” Linda said.
Linda describes the move south as the best thing she’s ever done. It was a leap of faith at the time, and she encourages others to do the same, “Don’t be afraid, because you’ll find that everyone welcomes you in. … If you’re lonely, you just go into the clubhouse, sit there, have a cup of coffee, and there’s always someone that will talk to you.”
Allan and his late wife moved to the village over twelve years ago and had time to enjoy village life in the years before his wife became ill. “A lot of people hang onto their family home, especially if they’ve been in that home for a long time, because of memories. But really when you think about it that’s the past. You live longer if you’ve got a future. Look to the future!”
Congratulations Allan and Linda on celebrating starting your new life together at Bridgewater. We do so love a good love story.