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Helena and Johan van der Merwe – Resident of Omokoroa Country Estate

 

Helena and Johan van der Merwe

If there is one thing every person dreams about, it is retirement. When you are young you want to make enough money to retire, you plan and save for retirement but, alas it is the one thing that nobody is ever prepared for. Obviously; who wants to think of old age and emptiness?

Charles Aznavour sings a beautiful song, ‘Yesterday’ and the lyrics are telling:

“Yesterday when I was young the taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned…”

And then one morning you realise the truth in another line of the song:

“I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think what life was all about…”

So, you realise that your yesterday is also gone, that there might be a few tomorrows and you need to decide how to spend them.

After the lockdown in 2020, we realized that the big house and garden became a burden and the question dawned; where to go from here?

We drove past Omokoroa Country Estate and it looked inviting with lots of trees and beautifully manicured gardens. We thought that it was worth a visit. There were so many questions. Some got answered, others we saved for later but it was as if a whirlwind took us and a bigger Hand decided our destiny. We packed up, waved goodbye to many things that we gathered through the years, sad to see some go but grateful for the memories.

We were fortunate that a beautiful home was available and excited about our new life. We walked into the arms of welcoming residents and suddenly realised that we had been lonely in our big house. Everybody had advice, some brought flowers, others stayed for tea but our whirlwind experience continued. We read some of the many documents and papers that were put in front of us – some left us with questions but we knew it was the right decision and we decided that it is up to us to make it work.

Now, after a year, we look back with a grateful heart, still very excited to get up in the morning, busy ourselves with our little colourful garden, call friends for tea, or pop into the lovely warm pool for exercise.

What makes this place unique and special? The people!

Charles Aznavour sang – “The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away…”
But now we have new friends, our neighbours, all the like-minded, clever, kind and lovely people we enjoy interacting with.

There are so many activities that we can partake in, or we can just enjoy the talents of this great community as we did when we were stunned at the recent art exhibition. Grateful to be part of such an exceptional community, all with attributes they share with excitement. We feel bathed in happiness all around.

When we moved in, I could hardly walk due to an accident, now there is nothing more delightful than to walk the four minutes down to our beach, private, clean, peaceful and amazingly beautiful. On the way we wave to David and his cat, coming from the vege patch where many residents grow their own produce, share a garden story with another neighbour and enjoy seeing so many friends on our daily walk.

We tackle the many hiking trails. I would be ashamed not to when I see a resident in her nineties, with her walking frame, on her way to buy the weekly groceries just up the hill.

The gardens are beautiful and, year-round, we experience the endless joy of flowers and the exceptional birdlife. Outside my kitchen window six wax-eyes feed on the lard I hang in the tree. Four ring-neck dove couples visit daily for their meal and a hedgehog arrived unannounced one evening. The tuis enjoy the flowers as much as we do and we are sharing the early blossoms in our cherry tree with two rosellas, but nothing excites me more than to see and hear the thousands of godwits flying over our house. Yes, you are right; we live in a peaceful paradise.

Management takes care of every resident, watches over us, and protects us, but more, they really care.

There are many words to describe this kind of lifestyle. Independent living is kind of correct but more so is…abundance. We live a life in abundance. Friends and neighbours take the place of children in other countries and we understand one another as we share the same passion – peace, happiness, and freedom. We fondly think of everyone around us as part of our family.

Yes, there are many songs that won’t be sung, but now we create new songs, with wisdom and appreciation.

– Helena and Johan van der Merwe