Sharing happy memories together is Beryl Wykes' secret to a long happy marriage, but since her husband of 68 years was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, a Secret Garden at Whiddon Laurieton has become the newest memory they can share.
Beryl and Oswald, nicknamed Ossie, met when they were 19 and 21 and staying with their families in Wellington, New South Wales. Beryl says when she first spoke to Ossie from across the fence she immediately liked him for his curly hair and friendly personality. Ossie affectionately says he remembers Beryl as "being a bit of alright!"
The pair soon married and raised their three children in a house that Ossie built with his father in Yeoval, NSW.
Beryl says: "Ossie and I have always been keen gardeners; I love flowers and grew things from an early age, whereas Ossiealways grew vegetables, especially onions, tomatoes and beans. Watching our gardens grow together with our family has always been one of my fondest memories of our marriage."
The pair travelled the world together after retiring, but when Ossie was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, the pair moved to Whiddon Laurieton. Beryl says it was a beautiful surprise on arrival to know she could use the garden space between their units to grow themselves yet another garden.
Dale Feeney, Deputy Director of Care Services at Whiddon Laurieton says the team work to make the transition into care at Whiddon Laurieton as smooth as possible, attributing really getting to know the residents as people, and understanding what activities they normally do as a vital part of this process.
"We work to create an environment for couples where they can be together in a way that suits them and their life's journey; our gardens are plentiful and by giving Beryl and Ossie the freedom to create their own space has been very successful in achieving a sense of belonging to their community and new home.
"We have six couples in total at Whiddon Laurieton, another of which just celebrated 70 years together. We helped them celebrate with a candlelight dinner for two outside one evening, where they were waited on by a staff member who poured them champagne while they reminisced about their years together."
Beryl says: "At Whiddon Laurieton, not only are Ossie and I are still together but I also have the space to create a beautiful garden for us to enjoy. I get help with the heavy gardening and extra things I need like soil, everyone at Whiddon has been wonderful in helping me grow our Secret Garden.
"I feel fulfilled when I am gardening and I know that its calming effect has been enormously helpful for Ossie. Sometimes we can speak about his trucking business and times catching Murray Cod on the Darley River while I potter away, or he laughs as he remembers moments like the time I made a blackberry pie, but dropped it on the floor after it was taken out of the oven. The pie stained the floor and stayed there until we sold the house!"
Beryl concludes by offering her advice to other couples: "Give and take, be considerate of each other and create happy memories. That's the secret to a love that lasts."