Get Ahead of the Curve – so say the Borders

Mar 17, 2022

Beyond comfy is how you could best describe Cottage 75 nestled under trees and surrounded by gardens on three sides, in the heart of the established section of Settlers Park Retirement Village. It’s clear that the occupants, Tony and Tricia Border are long-time residents and are blissfully settled in their surrounds. The walls are adorned with engaging art pieces as well as portraits of their four adult children. What is surprising is the boudoir grand piano strategically placed in the centre of their living area. Tony, the son of a music teacher mom, and a civil engineer by qualification, plays entirely by ear and has hundreds of songs stored in his brain. All he needs are a few words or the name of a song and away he goes, fingers flying along the keys as the melodies make merry!

In no time at all this warm and lovely couple unpack their story as to how they came to be the folks who have owned a life right for the longest time at Settlers Park Retirement Village – a whopping 26 consecutive years!
Just as Tony, a successful entrepreneur in Johannesburg, was nudging his sixtieth birthday so a need arose to find a retirement spot for his mother widowed in her eighties and living alone in KwaZulu-Natal. At that time the couple lived in Mafikeng and enjoyed a subscription to a Port Alfred newspaper, The Kowie Announcer. An advert in the publication for a bedsit drew their attention to the then fledgling Settlers Park Retirement Village and they wasted no time making contact. While negotiations were taking place, Cottage No 5 became available and Tony, being the forward-thinking and astute man he is, purchased the life right in his and Tricia’s names.
The late Mrs Border senior described her days, spanning nearly a decade, as a Settlers Park resident as being among the happiest of her life. Much of this can be attributed to the home-made golf course she set up on the vacant land to the east of her cottage, complete with sunken cans as holes, where she and her friends regularly practiced her their chipping prowess.
The family are no strangers to the Eastern Cape. Tony’s dad had been the bank branch manager in Makhanda (then known as Grahamstown) and his mom had graduated from the town’s teachers’ training college. Holidays were frequently spent in the Kowie and Tony and Tricia later owned a holiday house near the beach.
When asked what surprised them upon moving into the park in 2007, Tricia says that it is the confusion folks have about the concept of buying a life-right to a cottage. Incidentally, when the Borders were ready to downscale to Cottage No 5, Cottage No 75 became available and it was a tree in the garden that sealed the trade deal for Tricia. In Tricia’s words: “A life right is similar to paying your rent up front, in a lump sum.” “Too many folks are mistaken in believing that they are buying property and should therefore reap the rewards at the end of their time in the cottage,” continues Tony. “What you are investing in,” says Tricia, “is a type of insurance policy that provides a secure lifestyle with the benefit of having a safe secure home a for the balance of your life.” Both agree that it has “been worth every cent” and that “the Care Centre is key” to the success of their stay at Settlers Park. Both the Borders have taken a tumble and have had medical assistance provided within minutes of raising the alarm. Tony has also had post operation care which he describes as being of a high standard while spending a few days convalescing in the Care Centre and cannot sing the staff’s praises highly enough.

Furthermore, say the Borders, they’re surprised at how many folks leave it too late in terms of making the move from a regular freestanding home to a retirement village. In their opinion, a couple should move while they have the energy and strength to set up a new home together so that, when one passes, the other is left behind in a familiar space filled with shared memories. The notion that your life will not be your own is also discounted. “When it comes to how involved one is in terms of the numerous activities on offer, it is up to each resident to decide what his or her involvement is going to be. There is no pressure whatsoever to take part in anything,” says Tony. “You can go about your life in whatever way you choose,’ adds Tricia, “safe in the knowledge that the Care Centre is available 24 hours a day to assist should there be an emergency”.

You can go about your life in whatever way you choose…
In Tricia’s case her involvement runs deep. She has been a Settlers Park Retirement Village Board member, including a tenure in the Chair, for several years. A retired mathematics teacher and office manager Tricia is still involved as the editor of the Village’s monthly newsletter: Silver Threads and has yet to miss a deadline in 11 years. There have been times when she has even submitted work from her children’s homes in Canada and Australia.
The couple enjoy water aerobics in the Village’s heated pool, twice a week, the monthly University of the Third Age and the Lower Albany Historical Society lectures and also play bridge regularly. Then there has been the Kowie Quavers, a string of singing men accompanied by talented Tony on the piano and even “a choir” made up of gents who gather to enjoy the finer notes of a good whiskey or two!
“Our advice to folks, especially to men who seem particularly resistant to moving, is to guard against leaving it too late,” say the Borders. “There is peace of mind for both our children and for ourselves at Settlers Park and we don’t, nor have we ever, thought of this slice of serenity as being an old age home. It is simply home.”

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