A Life of Adventure
Helen Brooke might be best described as an adventurer: she has lived a full and varied life, approached great change with pragmatism and practicality and always just “got on with it”.
Helen has lived parts of her life in Deloraine, Hobart, Port Macquarie, King Island, Legana and Newstead, with her adventures all taking place in a different backdrop.
It is perhaps, then, no surprise that only one of her children and stepchildren lives in Tasmania. They are spread across the continent from Perth, Port Macquarie, Brisbane, Cairns, Mackay and now Penguin, where her son has recently retired. “They are sprinkled around a bit,” Helen says.
Helen is stoical and practical, qualities that she possibly developed as a farmer’s wife for 20 years on a small island. When asked about her background, she says that she wasn’t very interesting, and then proceeds to share fascinating stories about her time on King Island. She took her young family to the remote island to work a farm and loved her time there. She didn’t feel isolated, she said. But this may be due to the fact that, once her children had established themselves, Helen and her husband (a pilot as well as farmer) would take their own plane to destinations across Australia.
“That was actually a really interesting time. We went to a lot of places. I loved flying!”
So when you have lived and flown all over Australia, how do you choose where to spend your retirement years? When Helen was diagnosed with a health condition that would lead to issues with mobility and vision, her surgeon told her to start to look for a retirement home she wanted to go to, before she had to leave her home. Helen tried a few places using their respite care program and decided that she really liked the feel of Peace Haven. She came to stay around 14 months ago.
Adjusting wasn’t necessarily easy but Helen is pragmatic as always. “I really enjoy being here. I think the staff are tremendous and they make it as homely as they can.
“The room is comfortable: lovely, sunny and bright. It also suits my needs for accessibility. From the start, I liked the atmosphere and I think the residents are all very friendly. It’s just got a nice feel. The staff, including the maintenance staff and gardeners, are very kind. I love gardening and I have a lovely view of the garden here, and I love to go and sit outside. So when they were doing it up, the gardener asked me what colour roses I liked. I told him yellow and he had every colour but yellow. Anyway, I came back to my room after lunch that day and planted outside was a yellow rose. He found me one.”
Helen still has many close friends, having reconnected with school friends when she moved from Legana to Newstead 20 years ago. Coming to Peace Haven has meant she is still able to see her friends very regularly, and the parking and access for her more elderly friends is very easy. “We go out for lunch, or they come and visit.
I also like to go to the Day Centre and have a chat. I enjoy people.”