“My father built this house. Forty years ago, after he died, we bought it back. We don’t want to go.”
Charlie is loud, direct and fun.
His wife Jan has had dementia for a couple of years. And now that Charlie has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, staying in the house will have its challenges. But Charlie has his reasons.
“My father built this house over 60 years ago.
“He bought the land in ‘47 and built it himself in his spare time, on weekends. He was actually a cabinet maker. Years later, when mum died, I got married and moved away. And then when Dad died, I bought this house back. We wanted it back. We’ve been here ever since”.
Jan and Charlie married in their early 20’s. Charlie was a carpet cutter and layer. They soon had three children, and in his 40’s, Charlie moved to Qantas on a quality inspection team. “I became a leading hand with a team of 13 men. And I worked there for 22 years. I loved it.
“When I wasn’t at work, I was always working on the house.
We loved our house, and the garden, and always looked after it. I loved spending time in my back shed. And I used to love to travel. And for Jan, it was the house. She loved the home. That was her life. But I’m 84 in a couple of weeks. I’ve slowed right down. I can’t work on the house any more. After I retired, I used to love to teach ESL, but I’m cutting back on that now too.”
“I am still the best cake maker you've ever seen in your whole life!”
Charlie has brewed some coffee and produces a magnificent home-made fruit slice, covered in green icing. “You want some sugar? No? Ahh, go on. What’s wrong with you?” These days Charlie runs the home and does the cooking. He’s good company and full of good cheer. The slice is delicious. Jan, who has been sitting quietly in the lounge room, comes out and joins us. She chuckles at Charlie’s flow of jokes.