Golden glow at 209

Nov 10, 2021

When meeting Settlers Park resident, Linda Reynolds you are immediately struck by her “glass half full” approach to life. But be warned, it’s contagious!  While Linda is pint sized and her partner, Gordon wears a size 13 shoe, a sweeter, a more content couple you couldn’t hope to find.

A second marriage for both, Gordon and Linda met in 1986, tied the knot in 1991 and had no plans whatsoever to retire to a place like Settlers Park. Together they successfully farmed a 19-acre smallholding in Walkerville, Gauteng. Prior to this, Gordon and Linda had respectively enjoyed careers in electronics engineering and insurance.

But fate intervened. In what should have been a routine gall bladder operation, Gordon suffered a stroke in theatre. Linda took him home to recover as best he could but, by 2010, the writing was on the wall. Farm security was diminishing, age was no longer on their side and Gordon’s rehabilitation had progressed as far as it was likely to go. Paralysed on the right side with scant verbal skills, a lost ability to read and write and constrained mobility, it was time to take a long hard look at their plans for their golden years. In no time at all, this loving couple decided to sell up and begin anew in a coastal retirement village with care facilities.
In typical dynamo style, Linda researched retirement options from Cape Town to Durban. While the Western Cape was very appealing, the costs were not. Her search led her to a local estate agency that held the mandate for two rival retirement villages in Port Alfred. When Linda turned both down due to there being insufficient care facilities and high pricing, she was exasperatedly advised to “then take a look at Settlers Park”. And what she saw on the website appealed to her as did the price and the life-right contract. Wasting no time, Linda contacted Sue Croukamp, the sales manager only to have her hopes dashed as there weren’t any cottages immediately available. Their smallholding had sold and the clock was ticking …

Not one to lose faith, Linda was soon able to share the good news with Gordon that a few cottages had become available.  “From the start, Sue was a star!” says Linda, “She immediately took on board the challenges Gordon has and nothing was too much trouble to accommodate them”. While their spacious cottage was being refurbished in early 2011, Gordon and Linda enjoyed a short stay in a hired house in Jeffrey’s Bay.

“What struck me first, when we drove through to Port Alfred, for the very first time, was how very English the town is.  And when we drove into Settlers Park I clearly remember wondering why so many of the cottages had rainwater tanks.” 

Ironically, their first visit to their new home, bought absolutely sight unseen, was in the pouring rain! That aside, the tour of the cottage with newly tiled floors to accommodate Gordon’s wheelchair and the adapted bathroom to give him the freedom to bathe himself. met with their immediate approval.

And once again, Linda sprang into action. She converted the garage into her glass studio where she spends many hours creating glorious glass objects. A largely self-taught glass artist with oodles of talent, Linda particularly enjoys stained glass work but is just as comfortable with mosaicking and fused glass projects. Select gift shops stock her creations and you can take a look by visiting her Facebook page here. Linda also accepts repair jobs and commissions. Her organized studio with plenty of well stocked shelves, counter tops bearing barbaric-looking tools and a sleek, modern kiln is clearly her “happy place”. Gordon makes up for Linda’s humbleness by eagerly drawing one’s attention to the many lovely pieces on display in their comfortable home and outside in the sunny courtyard. This includes a stained glass window in the master bedroom of a typically Eastern Cape scene replete with aloes in full bloom which, when the sun sets, catches and refracts the light with redolent colour.

Returning to their Settlers Park journey, Linda is quick to point out the benefits of not having a big home to keep clean, to keep secure and to maintain.  

“If anything needs repairing I simply log a job card on the intranet and in no time at all someone will attend to it. From experience I know that the right person from the right department, whether it be electrical or plumbing or whatever, will assist me.” 

Then there are the added benefits of Settlers Park that are not so obvious.    For example, the Reynolds make use of the restaurant Monday to Friday with varied and delicious meals delivered right to their door.  They also take advantage of the Care Centre’s home clinic visits and book these as and when needed. Once, when Gordon took a tumble, Linda used the panic button to call for help. The response was immediate with little trauma or upset.  The ongoing water crisis  has also been smoothly dealt with in that every cottage has been provided with at least 7000l water tank.  Water from these tanks is plumbed into the cottages so that there is no need to ever lug buckets to flush loos.  Then there is the garden service that not only keeps the communal park areas in pristine condition but are also available, for a fee, to take care of their garden too.  Furry friends are permitted to live with residents as long as the pre-requisites as set down by the Settlers Park administration are met. First Peanut, a feral cat and then Stripes, a street cat, have provided companionship and joy to them, especially to Gordon. 

In summing up their Settlers Park decade, Linda advises folks not to wait too long to make the move.  Their number one priority, dictated by the hand of fate, has been and will continue to be optimal care for Gordon. Linda is well satisfied that this has been and continues to be met.  

“We have peace of mind at Settlers Park. Should anything happen to me, I know that Gordon will continue to be loved and cared for by the fabulous folks who have all the systems and processes in place to ensure that life is lived to the maximum, no matter the challenges.”

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