The Joy of a life, love and the land
JOY Hood has lead a life of adventure filled with garden parties hosted by Queens, picnics in the Queensland outback and country dances where ladies twirled in pretty dresses.
Joy grew up on a sheep station in Charleville.
It was during the depression years - there was no war and she was surrounded by uncles and aunts working together on the land.
School lessons were taught by governesses - young women who travelled for days by train from the city with little idea what awaited them at the other end.
Lessons were sent out each week, and returned for marking on the mail truck.
Being able to teach piano and take the kids horse riding were requirements for the governesses, selected by local stock agents.
For Joy every aspect of growing up on the land was magical.
Her parents were social creatures and although Joy was too young to attend country balls, her father would often make a bed in the ute tray and back it up to the verandah of the dance hall so the children could watch the pretty ladies dance and listen to the music.
One day at the family homestead as a dust storm rolled in, Joy sat staring at strange shadows passing by the tennis court that backed onto her family's large homestead.
"We could see these shadows through the red dust - we didn't know what they were at the time, but afterwards my uncle went out to investigate," Joy said.
"It turned out they were camels. An Afghani cameleer had become lost in the storm on his way to Quilpie and ended up at our place.
"The tennis court fence was very high and I remember the camels were so tall they could put their heads over the fence."
That wasn't the only natural phenomena Joy witnessed living in the outback.
One night a strange light appeared on the horizon.
At first Joy and her family thought it was a bushfire, but the light didn't spread across the landscape the way a fire would and didn't seen to be coming any closer.
"When we got the papers the next week, it turned out we had seen the southern lights, The Aurora Australis," she said.
"That was quite special.
"I miss the peaceful life of the country. I always feel I'd like to go back and I probably will some day."
When Joy was a young woman she embarked on the adventure of a lifetime that saw her rubbing shoulders with royalty at Buckingham Palace.
Most girls she knew went over to work in London for a few years. Many took up positions in coffee shops, but Joy wanted to do something different, so she went into town and became a London typist.
She and some other women formed a group and together they did "typical tourist things" like going to garden parties at the palace, going to the opera and theatre, and following the hunt.
"Everybody went to garden parties at Buckingham Palace in those days - if they were selected that is, of course they went," Joy said.
"You got this thing saying 'You are commanded by her Majesty to attend a garden party', that was the invitation - so of course you went.
"And then you went back the next day to sign the visitors' book to say 'thank you'.
"The Agent General (Queensland's representative in London) told me not to hire a car, but to go in by taxi.
If you went in a taxi, they had to take you through the grounds and you would walk through the palace to get to the gardens.
"Inside the palace was lovely, so that was a good tip."
When Joy came home in 1956 a relationship with an old friend - the reverend Tom Hood - blossomed into a 50-year romance.
"I remember the day he proposed to me," Joy said.
"We'd gone for a picnic out on a bush road. The wattle was all in bloom and the soil was rich red.
"He didn't get down on one knee, he just said he wanted to marry me.
"I told him I wasn't sure about that. Neither of us were young.
"I was 34 when we got married and he was 39, so we weren't just flappers."
Despite her hesitations, the pair married on January, 11, 1964 at St Augustine's Anglican Church in Hamilton, Brisbane.
"I wore a pink lace dress; I think it cost $32," Joy said.
"I didn't want to wear white because I thought it wouldn't do anything for me. I had black hair and lots of freckles.
"I just wore a little bandana around my head and a little veil - My shoes were very nice though, they were pink satin."
Five years ago Joy had a stroke. Doctors told her she would never walk again, but after a year in bed staring at the same four walls, Joy managed to stand back up again.
Now she makes the most of her life at Milford Grange where she lived with her husband Tom, a modest man who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his work, he died in February 2014.
Joy takes every opportunity to take part in activities and almost never misses the chance to go out for the day.
"The success of settling into a new phase of life depends on participating in all the activities and I encourage all residents to do this for their fulfilment," Joy says.
"We can all learn from each other's experiences of life.
"Keep searching and looking for answers to it all."