Twice the surprise

Tears were flowing at a Uniting AgeWell residence recently when two sisters unable to see each other for almost two years were reunited.

Physical distance and access to transport made it difficult for Manor Lakes Community resident Ruth Orr and her sister Mirl Loft to keep in touch as they aged.

But when Mirl moved to Uniting AgeWell’s Kingsville Community in June 2018, the staff at both sisters’ residences made it their mission to bring them together.

“We knew how much Ruth missed her sister and when Mirl moved to Kingsville we discovered she desperately wanted to see Ruth,” Manor Lakes Community Leisure and Lifestyle Coordinator Angela Taylor said.

“We worked closely with the Kingsville Leisure and Lifestyle Team to arrange a surprise reunion and had so much fun planning it.”

Angela staged a group outing for Manor Lakes residents to a ‘café in Melbourne’ and invited Ruth to come along.  The group was taken to the Uniting AgeWell Kingsville Community café, where local staff had also suggested Mirl grab a cuppa.

“It was something from a fairy-tale,” Mirl said.  “She was just sitting there.

We just hugged and laughed and cried.

The pair instantly reconnected and began reminiscing about growing up in Williamstown with their brother and sister.

The oldest of four, Mirl, said she and baby sister Ruth spent their days playing shops on the neighbour’s fence and visiting their grandparents for Sunday roast.  When the women married and moved away from home they remained close, catching up for weekly lunches for decades.

The sisters had so much to catch up on, but Mirl said they “cried too much” to talk throughout most of the reunion.  Eager to enable the sisters a proper catch-up, the staff quickly began arranging another meeting. 

In July, their plan came to fruition when Mirl visited Ruth at Manor Lakes Community.  The sisters were overjoyed to see each other again and continue catching up on time lost.

Kingsville Community Leisure and Lifestyle Coordinator Michael Silva said connecting with her sister helped Mirl adjust to living in an aged care setting.

“Mirl was quite anxious about her transition into aged care,” he said.

“She has since told me all those fears have been allayed and she feels at home due to the fact that the staff reunited her with her sister and gave her the opportunity to be herself.”

Angela said Uniting AgeWell staff were now working to reconnect the women to their other sister, Gwen, who resides at an aged care residence in south-west Melbourne.