LIFE can sometimes be a rollercoaster. This is something Cairns woman Paula Walker, 100, knows very well. Despite the ups and downs, the Bolton Clarke At Home Support client has experienced throughout the last century she says she couldn’t be more grateful to have celebrated her 100th birthday with family on 16 February.
Born in Brisbane in 1918, Paula served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War 2 as an Officer.
It was here she met her late husband James Mackenzie who was in Aircraft Maintenance.
The couple married in 1946 and raised a family that has now expanded from three children to seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Family, travel and writing – particularly keeping up with friends around the world as a keen letter writer – are Paula’s enduring passions.
Daughter Gina Mercer says her mum has always loved keeping in touch with the friends she met in her travels through letter writing.
“Mum has had several overseas trips,” Gina said.
“To England, twice to the USA, New Zealand several times, and Norfolk Island.
“Always open and friendly, she has enjoyed long friendships with people she met along the way.
“She has always been a prolific letter writer, and until recently corresponded with her friends all over the world.”
“She’s always loved Cryptic crosswords and bought magazines to complete them every week.
“She would discuss clues with her sister by phone every week, and when she wrote to her sister, it was always in rhyme.”
An avid sportswoman, Paula also played tennis and golf for much of her life.
At age 58 she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, but after surgery beat the illness and continued her active lifestyle.
Later in life, after her husband became ill, the couple moved to Cairns to be closer to their daughters.
Paula was widowed in 1993 but continued to keep herself busy, taking up water colour painting classes and meeting many other like-minded women.
She continues to live an active lifestyle at home with support from her family and regular visits from Bolton Clarke’s At Home Support team.
“The Registered Nurses have been wonderful, giving practical solutions to problems as soon as they arise,” Gina said.
“We’re so thankful for our Bolton Clarke carers who have given my lovely mother support and warm and gentle help, rubbed lotion on her skin and a made cup of tea with a cheery greeting, popped on that load of washing, brought clothes in from the line – we will always be grateful.”
Paula celebrated her birthday with her family in Cairns.
Bolton Clarke supports more than 150 Centenarians across Australia through at-home support services, retirement living and residential aged care. Paula is a member of the organisation’s recently launched Centenarian Club, which aims to create new opportunities to honour and record the lives of residents, build relationships and reinforce their sense of identity and continuation of their story.