I’ll never forget Colleen. When we visited New Zealand in 2008 we stayed in the lovely bed and breakfast Colleen and her husband Bob ran in the city of Taupo. This past week I was preparing for a talk I will give to a women’s group in Carmen on Wednesday. In a section of my talk about a fulfilling retirement, I will describe Colleen. I had written about her at length in my journal when we were in New Zealand.
Colleen and her husband Bob were both in their seventies and already great grandparents. They were the consummate hosts. They had been sheep farmers. After selling their farm they used some of the proceeds to finance travel adventures on every continent. They were wine connoisseurs. They showed us pictures of their granddaughter’s recent wedding. Bob and Colleen chuckled about the fact they had attended barefoot because the wedding was on a beach by the ocean.
Colleen was active in her church, was in the midst of taking a writing course, belonged to a bridge club, and one afternoon during our stay she canned thirty jars of apricot marmalade and then whipped off a letter to the editor of the local paper concerning an issue she felt passionate about. She was the president of the local Women’s Institute and was in the midst of preparing for a New Years Eve party they were hosting. She wrote the invitations to the party in the form of a narrative poem that she shared with me.
Colleen bounced around her home whistling hymns and Beatles’ songs. One night she cooked us a lobster dinner that also included glazed ham, potatoes, beets and salad, was highlighted by two bottles of fine New Zealand wine and capped off with a homemade bread pudding served with cream and apricots.
Colleen gave me a valuable piece of retirement advice over a cup of tea one evening, “ I love my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren desperately” she said to me, “but I’ve realized its not healthy for me to be involved in every single detail of their lives.”
Colleen was vivacious and opinionated and I wanted to be just like her on my own retirement journey.
I did an internet search yesterday to find out if Colleen and Bob were still running their bed and breakfast in Taupo and was saddened to discover an obituary for Bob who died in September of 2017. I did learn from a Women’s Institute newsletter that Colleen was still hosting events for their organization in 2017 and I found the photo below of Colleen with other women from the Women’s Institute. In a May 2019 newspaper article I read that she and her friends at the Women’s Institute were hosting a national meeting of women from all over New Zealand. It seems Colleen is as active as ever.