“I used to love watching tennis. I really, really wanted to play tennis."
But I thought I could never do it. I just couldn’t move quickly and turn. So one day I was watching through the wire. And a lady said to me, ‘you’ll never be able to do that just watching. Get out there and have a go. You’ll never do it just standing and watching!’ I’ve played tennis ever since. I don’t do so well with singles. But I’ve played doubles my whole life. I’ve played every week.
For a moment, it almost seems impossible – but that’s the sort of character Norm is.
“I was sacked from my job by council."
Well not really! I actually retired at 65, because in those days you had to. I wanted to work on, but I had to retire. After I retired, I got into a new routine. Mondays, Tennis. Tuesday, I did Meals on Wheels. Wednesday I had a rest. Thursday and Friday, I went in to the Downing Central Court and watched the court cases, the big ones. I loved that. They all got to know me and I saw a lot of things. I’d bring in sandwiches for lunch and be there all day. I got to know some of the barristers. And that’s something I loved!
“Then one day on the tennis court, I was 87, and I started to feel unwell. I stopped and I was in a sweat. It turned out I was having a heart attack. They got me off to hospital and in the end I was fine. But I’m not playing tennis any more now…
“Sometimes, I get a little bit depressed I guess."
Then I’ll go down to the back shed, I’ll stop and think a bit. And I’ll say to myself, ‘Norm, there’s a whole lot of people with a lot more worse off than you. Now you pull yourself together, you get back up there, and keep moving forward.’
“The Anglicare girls are great."
What happens is, Jude and I work out together the things I need a hand with. She’s great. Just great. I couldn’t do without her. Then when the careworkers come in, I just say, ‘You go over there and read the bible’. They just look at me at first. And I say – ‘no, not that Bible. The bible that Jude and I have done. Everything I need, it’s written in there’. That tells them what to do.
“I’m pretty good. I still look after myself in the shower, but they are always here just in case I have a fall. One day, one of them said, ‘Here Norm, we’ll put this chair in the shower. So if you get a bit tired, you can just sit down.’ Well I’m 96, and I’ve never sat in it yet.
“But they’ll help me with shopping, sometimes with cooking, or doing washing. If I need it. We have a good time, I get them laughing. It’s always fun and we get on really well. So overall, I’m doing pretty good. But I couldn’t be still here without them.”
Thanks Norm for sharing your story with us. Some names and details have been changed to protect privacy.