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Inspiring Seniors: 'True Love'

Lloyd and Mary Augustus were among the first residents of the new Chartwell Classic Robert Speck retirement home when it opened last fall in Mississauga, Ontario. “I fell in love with the suite,” says Mary, 87. The spacious end unit, with a living room, den and bedroom, has windows on three sides. “It’s so very bright. And the wonderful views!” Though close to the city centre, the retirement residence overlooks a peaceful ravine, where the couple regularly stroll along its landscaped walkways.

Lloyd and Mary could have waited for nicer weather before they moved, but they decided it didn’t make sense to wait. “We’re not impulsive people, but we don’t like to wait around either,” Mary explains. “For health reasons, we needed to have some support.”

Lloyd, who turns 90 in May, has undergone treatment for bladder cancer. “We thought it was time we got to a place where they had medical assistance right in the building,” he says. The residence has nursing staff 24 hours a day, and there’s always a doctor on call. Lloyd’s health has improved dramatically since moving to the residence. “I feel just fine, with no problems and no pain,” he says. He joins the exercise class five days a week.

The couple, married for 66 years, enjoy keeping their minds sharp while socializing with their like-minded neighbours. There’s often a game of Scrabble, bridge or euchre, a stimulating discussion of current events (Mary’s a political junkie) or a meeting of the book club. Lloyd, whose career progressed from a one-room country school teacher to area superintendent for the Etobicoke Board of Education, and Mary, a retired kindergarten teacher, are people of letters— literally. During Lloyd’s wartime stint as a major with a British Columbia regiment, he and Mary wrote to one another every day. Some of their 700 letters, which had been tied up in blue ribbon for more than half a century, have been immortalized in a poignant sculptural work, entitled “Writing to You” in St. Julien Square, a small pedestrian mews in Vancouver, British Columbia. When it’s suggested that such a quantity of letters, written and saved, must signify true love, Lloyd says, “That’s what we tell everybody.”

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