Be kind and keep on dancing says 90-year-old Joyce
JOYCE Read recently celebrated her 90th birthday. She shares her story of dancing, travelling, and love at first sight...
"I was born in Greece and raised in Egypt, an only child to a doting mother. When I was 14 years old, I left school and began working in the store room for the British Army. They asked me to dance for the troops two night per week. As an avid dancer, I jumped at the chance.
"It was here, in Alexandria, Egypt, that I met the man of my dreams. Wally Read was a tall, blonde, blue-eyed soldier from Australia. It was love at first sight. We danced together, and I went home floating on cloud nine.
"Six months later, we were set to marry, but Wally hadn't sought permission from my mother. When she found out, she hit the roof! But he was invited to dinner and thankfully won her over. I became his fiancée over a bowl of Greek chicken soup.
"Unfortunately, the wedding was booked for 10 day's time, and Wally's transfer to Australia was in just three days. The morning of the wedding, MPs came looking for Wally. He hid in a cupboard until they left, and the wedding went ahead unhindered. We were married on a Saturday, and on Monday Wally returned to Australia. It was 13 months before I joined him, in March 1944.
"I was one of the first World War II Greek war brides to come to Australia. Soon after, Wally was discharged and we settled blissfully into married life.
"I've always loved to travel, so I consider myself incredibly lucky to have seen much of the world. Wally and I once travelled to Europe and visited 14 countries. We made many treasured memories, which I held close to me when, during an adventure to Tasmania in 1988, Wally suddenly passed away.
"Without him, I was lost... until I started dancing again. As it has always done, dance revitalised me, and I was able to keep on living.
"My marriage to Wally was my greatest accomplishment. It brought me not only happiness, but also four daughters, 10 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren (at last count!).
"My daughter stayed with me to celebrate my 90th birthday, and I was visited by my granddaughter and great-grandchildren. It was so lovely to see them all.
"If there's one thing I've learned, it's simply to be kind.
"I've always tried to support others, which makes it easier now to accept a bit of support myself. Home Nursing Group helps me with some of the heavier tasks around the home, but I am still independent. I manage my own washing and enjoy cooking my own meals; I still potter around my garden; I enjoy having this freedom to do as I please.
"I think that I'm doing rather well at 90 - maybe it's in my genes!"