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Here we can be together

Love always finds a way

They say love is ageless, and nowhere is that truer than in the Acacia Wing at Palm Lake Care Bargara. It might have taken Bev Laugher and Alan McPhan 70-odd years to find one another but, as Bev gushes, it was love at first sight. And now nothing will keep them apart…

Bev’s first husband, John, had been a Spitfire pilot in the war and they were married for 53 years before he sadly passed away. At roughly the same time, Alan, who lived nearby Bev in the same Hervey Bay housing village, lost his partner as well. As fate (and a little bit of luck) would have it, Bev and Al met and connected at a time when they each needed the most support.

“One day out of the blue he approached me, saying ‘Maam, I’ve just had my car serviced and the mechanic says I should take it for a drive to run it in – I thought you might like to go for a drive with me?’” Bev recalls. “Funnily enough, I had been telling the other girls in the village that I thought he was a handsome-looking devil!”

Bev says she accepted his offer without hesitation and the pair ended up enjoying hamburgers, milkshakes and great conversation beside the sea that afternoon. The pair “just clicked” and it was not all that long afterwards, on her 80th birthday, that Bev says all her dreams came true. Al, the modern romantic, surprised her with a sparkling diamond engagement ring! While recalling the moment, Bev looks at her hand and that most meaningful piece of jewellery with equal parts pride and the same unbridled excitement you see in besotted teenage lovebirds. Through Bev’s glistening eyes, and the pitch of her voice, you quickly learn that love really is ageless.

For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, Bev and Al were adamant that they would share the rest of their lives together. However, finding an aged caring community to support their wishes and their health needs proved difficult – until Bev stumbled upon an ad for Palm Lake Care Bargara in the newspaper.

“I was straight on the phone and a lovely lady, Kelcey (from Palm Lake Care’s Care Solutions team), answered. When I told her we wanted to come and have a look at Palm Lake Care but needed to organise a taxi, she offered to pick us up herself – I thought that was just wonderful,” Bev says.

With the support of the Care Solutions Team in handling all the required paperwork, Bev and Al found “heaven” (as Bev puts it) about eight months ago, in two rooms, side-by-side, at Palm Lake Care Bargara. The pair has cleverly set up their home with one of the two adjacent rooms designated as sleeping quarters while their other room is an ample living and entertaining area. There are large and inviting lounge chairs here to sink into, while the pair chats up a storm. And Bev’s ‘indoor garden’ is the talk of this aged caring community – it’s a floral tribute and tangible reminder of a life enjoyed in her beloved garden.

While their ‘marital’ home is everything they wished for, Bev says the Palm Lake Care staff are “absolutely wonderful” and “spoil us rotten”. Bev is also feeling useful lending her knowledge, gained through a career in hospitality, as part of the handpicked Palm Lake Care Bargara resident ‘Food Focus’ group, with members sharing their feedback with management on all things food service and the dining experience. When Al (who is famous for his collection of 17 vibrant Hawaiian-print shirts) isn’t spending time with the lads around the billiard table, and Bev isn’t at her twice-weekly exercise classes, the pair enjoys bingo, movies and a shared artistic love of colouring-in that has Bev harking back to her earlier days spent oil painting. All in all, this spirited couple gives staff and their fellow neighbours reason to smile – their affection is that warm and contagious.

“Yes, we’re madly in love!” Bev enthuses. “Love really can be wonderful the second time around. The important thing is that we are able to be together here. And I couldn’t ask for more than that.”