It’s not the first time Harry Shaw has followed in his son Tony’s footsteps, especially when it comes to choosing a place to live.
When Tony left their Lancashire home to try a new life in New Zealand in 1967, Harry and his wife Betsy upped sticks and joined their only son on the other side of the world a few years later.
More recently in December, Harry left his home of 17 years at Ryman Healthcare’s Hilda Ross Retirement Village to join his son on the other side of Hamilton at Ryman’s newest village, Linda Jones.
While it was still a big shift for a 95-year-old, recently-widowed Harry says he weighed up the pros and cons beforehand.
“At first I wasn’t too keen because I have been here so long and had got settled,” Harry admitted before the move.
“But I think it will be very nice. I’m looking forward to having meals with him a few times a week.”
Tony, who moved into his apartment in October, was originally looking at retirement living options with his wife Eileen.
The pair had been sweethearts when Tony first left for New Zealand, keeping up a long distance relationship until he returned to the UK to marry her and bring her back in 1971.
“My eyes had been opened, I just liked the relaxed living style here,” says Tony. “And Eileen liked it here as well.”
They settled in Paraparaumu while Tony worked in Wellington and Harry and Betsy arrived just as the first grandchild was on the way.
The couple were grateful to have close family nearby and that was appreciated even more so when two years later Eileen gave birth to triplets!
“It was on the front page of the Evening Post. SMM milk powders gave us four or five cans a week for nothing. And we were using 54 cloth nappies a day! So it was great that Mum and Dad were around,” said Tony.
Indeed, after trying out Nelson and Napier for life in the sun, Harry and Betsy lived down the road from Tony in Waikanae for 21 years and then Mount Maunganui for 10 years.
As long as there was a golf course nearby, Harry says he was happy, and he is still proud to have achieved three holes in one.
Tony and Eileen moved the family to Christchurch and Auckland with the bank before settling in Hamilton in 1983 where they had stayed ever since and looked forward to enjoying their retirement years together.
“Unfortunately and unexpectedly she died,” says Tony, referring to his wife of 48 years’ brief but hard-fought battle with cancer in 2019.
“But I didn’t need the big house anymore so I saw Sharon and she did the whole spiel.”
Tony credits Linda Jones Sales Advisor Sharon Tainui for giving him the idea of inviting Harry to shift to the Flagstaff village.
Harry had already visited to give the seal of approval on Tony’s choice of apartment and Sharon asked if Harry had thought about transitioning from his townhouse to a serviced apartment, especially having lost his wife of 76 years in July.
The idea of the two widowers living at Linda Jones soon took hold and now, with father and son both settled in, they are enjoying more time together.
Tony no longer needs to trek across town to bring Harry his crosswords – 17 a week no less – and the pair can keep an eye on each other more easily.
“We’re aiming for lunch three times a week at this stage,” grins Tony.