Team members and residents share the wonder of travel
By Kristian Partington
If one adheres to the stereotypical view of life in elderhood after moving into a retirement home in Ontario, it might be hard to imagine a group of residents embarking to the shores of the Aegean Sea for a Greek odyssey. The Village of Tansley Woods is far from stereotypical, however, and for a group of residents and team members from the village, a wondrous adventure in Greece took place at the end of September under beautiful Mediterranean skies in the shadow of ancient history.
Frank Friedman was among the residents who made the journey and says that aside from the long, uncomfortable plane ride home it was the trip of a lifetime. His two grandchildren joined him, as well, offering another dimension to the unique memories created in the birthplace of democracy. Their Great-Grandfather, he explains, was from a small village southwest of Athens. Together they rented a car and drove through the mountains across the Corinthian Canal to find the roots of their ancestry – something he says he could never forget.
Les Hughes says it’s impossible to highlight just one aspect of the adventure as “most memorable.”
“I go for the whole experience. You read all the history but when you see it . . .” he pauses in reflection with a wide smile on his face, “it’s just amazing.” The resort where the “Tansley Trippers” stayed had a live disco, Les adds, “and I like to dance,” so at around 11:30 most nights, he was there with his dancing shoes on.
Les says that were it not for the fact that team members came along to support the residents, such a trip would not have been possible for him. “I never would have made it if I weren’t living here,” he says.
Fellow resident Stephanie Fredo agrees. She recalls the day the group visited the most revered site in Athens, the Acropolis – a steep rocky hill surrounded by the Temple of Hephaestus and various other ruins, capped at the top with the famous Parthenon. The climb to the top is not an easy one, even for the most able-bodied person, and Stephanie was daunted. She was in a wheelchair for comfort, she says, for the paths in Athens are rough and the walkers unstable. There was no way she would have seen the city from the top of the Acropolis, were it not for Brendan Wickham, the village exercise therapist.
“He pushed me from down below right to the top,” she says. “Can you imagine that? I kept telling him to stop and rest if he needed to but he’d say ‘Nope, I’m fine.’ ”
The group visited the sites and shops together, feasting on fabulous food and building memories far beyond anything possible if they only knew each other through village life. After the long flight home, they continue to relive the trip through stories and photos, enjoying the new bonds they share, tightened through the wonder of travel and exploration.