Village News

The Good Life

17 September 2022

Jan van Wijk

The Good Life

Not all of us are fortunate enough to find our soulmate – but luck was on Jan van Wijk’s side when he stepped through the gates of Papakura High School nearly 70 years ago.

After clapping eyes on classmate Lorraine his fate was sealed, and in the decades since, the childhood sweethearts have been inseparable. From getting married and building their first home to raising their children and welcoming grandchildren, Jan and Lorraine have gathered a lifetime of cherished memories.

And although Lorraine sadly passed away recently, 82-year-old Jan has navigated the ordeal with grace, courage – and even a little humour.

“Lorraine was a wonderful wife, the best I ever had,” chuckles the lively Dutchman.

Jan feels thankful that the couple decided to trade in their sprawling family home for retirement village living late last year.

“We lived on a third of an acre in Conifer Grove for 31 years. We had a lovely big property with a huge garden and a nice workshop. But we knew that when one of us went, the person left behind would not be able to maintain it. Lorraine was much keener to move into a retirement village than I was, but I could definitely see the logic in it.”

Since shifting into Metlifecare’s Longford Park Village seven months ago, Jan’s initial reluctance has turned into relief.

“I’m so happy to be here. Everyone is friendly and supportive, and my unit is lovely, with garden on three sides, filled with lots of plants we brought from Conifer Grove.”

Both avid gardeners (“Lorraine was management, I was maintenance!”), the couple enjoyed the chance to inject a little of their old home into their new one. And now that Jan has more time on his hands, there’s plenty more to immerse himself in.

“There are 35 different activities on offer here. I intend to start bowls, get into the pool, and I might even have a go at table tennis. I’ve also signed up for a key to the workshop and I might make myself another bookcase. I’m not quite in glide mode yet, but that will come.”

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