by Linda Macqueen

Finding welcome and renewed life in ‘God’s waiting room’

Gillian and Coralie are widows, and Rosemary has been wrestling with cancer for 35 years.

That hardly sounds like the start to a fun afternoon. Yet, in the space of an hour, these three lovely ladies living at Murray Bridge Lutheran Homes in South Australia, share a lively lesson: that pain comes, and pain goes, and pain comes back again, and in between, never miss an opportunity to laugh out loud.

When their friends asked them why they were moving into a retirement village when they were still so active, each of them responded in the same way: ‘Why should we wait until we’re too old to do all the things we enjoy?’

While some people call retirement villages ‘God’s waiting room’, Coralie, Gillian and Rosemary laugh when they hear this: ‘Well, they are!’ Gillian says. ‘We’re all going to die, everybody … so we might as well enjoy ourselves while we’re waiting!’

Finding welcome and renewed life in ‘God’s waiting room’ Mind you, in their determination to celebrate the joy of life, Coralie, Rosemary and Gillian have had more than a few helping hands. Each travelling unexpected pathways that they would describe as God’s leading, they’ve been carried through the hardest times of their life on the loving and caring arms of their village family.

Welcomed while waiting

In the village Rosemary, Coralie and Gillian have found friends who share the same love of life as they do and who will not only weep with them in the bad times but also howl with laughter with them in the good times.

‘People do make you feel welcome here’, Gillian says. ‘Most of us make a point of helping newcomers to settle in. And if people are shut in, we make sure they are looked after. We don’t leave people on their own, unless they want to be.’

Rosemary adds, ‘You can do as little or as much as you like here. Nobody judges you; they are always supporting. This is such a welcoming, Christian, caring place to be. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.’

Little things

Rosemary’s story Rosemary, who survived breast cancer 35 years ago, has been fighting off secondaries ever since. The latest in her liver and her pelvic bones. She’s recently finished another round of chemo and is proudly showing off her new crop of curly hair.

‘Everybody is so friendly here; there’s a strong Christian witness’, she says. ‘You know you’ll be looked after when you need help. It’s nothing especially grand or significant, just little things … but it’s the little things that mean so much.’

Subscribe here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full