Feeling blue? Florence felt it was time for a new hairdo
FLORENCE Bush looks nowhere near the 84 years of age she will be in a couple of months.
It's not just her smile, or the long blue hair she wears piled on her head, but the way she walks, erect and brisk, shopping bags in each hand not weighing her down.
"It's the farming," she offers me when I ask her secret.
Florence and her husband, Ron, did a few years on a farm at Palmwoods, growing pawpaw and other produce when they moved north from Sydney in 1965.
It was the first of a few ventures.
"We lived on the farm a few years and then we moved to Noosa and we bought an old fish shop. It was pretty rough," Florence said.
"We got a loan from the Shell company and rebuilt it. We built a service station, a fish shop and a fruit shop."
They eventually found themselves with more on their plates than they wanted and instead went into an antique shop, The Trading Post, at Yandina.
After Ron was diagnosed with cancer, the couple sold up and moved to Brisbane for a while, and then back to the Sunshine Coast at Sippy Downs, but Ron craved more space and they ended up back on a small farm at Woombye, and then in Nambour.
Florence admits her life was very much influenced by her husband.
"My husband was a person who, once he did something, was ready to move on," she said.
"Moving and doing things like that, maybe I wouldn't have done it that much, but he was a great man. He told me he loved me every day."
Ron, who was 10 years older than Florence, died not quite three years ago from Alzheimer's.
They had been married for 54 years. It was the second marriage for both, and they each brought two sons to the relationship, which was sealed with the birth of a daughter in 1967.
Cathy died at 19 in an accident which Florence does not like to talk about.
And although she misses her husband, she considers herself fortunate.
"I was very lucky to have a man who loved me so much. There's a lot of people who can't say that. In fact, I had a friend whose husband never told her he loved her."
Indoor bowls once a week and treasure hunting in Nambour's op shops for gifts bring Florence joy these days. She keeps active, which she says keeps her in good health.
"I do a bit of gardening and if I'm in Nambour, I park the car and walk, and I like to carry things - it's good for my strength," she said.
Florence's blue hair, piled and pushed high on her head, is her trademark.
She has been wearing it that way for years, and dying it blue since long before today's rainbow shades were fashionable.
"I just felt I needed more colour on me and my husband liked it so much that I've always done it," she said.
"Someone said to me a while back, 'Have you tried pink?' but it's not me."