The 20/20 blog: Meet Maureen

In this month’s 20/20 blog, Che Eyewear had coffee with our beloved customer Maureen, discussing the universal themes of love, loss, work and family.

Getting married at the young age of twenty and taking on the role of loving mother to four children, Maureen experienced her biggest challenge in life when she lost her husband to an unexpected illness. And while moving on from a marriage of over three decades is never easy, Maureen’s resilience and ability to focus on the future is nothing short of inspiring.

What’s your great passion and why do you do it?

Maureen: My great passion, let’s see. I don’t know if I have one! I was working up until last year. My great passion … Well, I suppose living life to the max!

That’s really more than a lot of people do. What did you retire from?

Maureen: I was a nurse. I worked for Health Network in the east. I’ve lived in the area for nearly ten years – I moved here after my husband died. We were going to move anyway when our last child left school and it just came a little bit sooner. I just kept the momentum going after he died, I just kept moving.

Where did you move?

Maureen: Blackburn North to Fitzroy. There’s a lifestyle change! I needed to be close to transport, close to shops. I didn’t want to have to rely on a car down the track.

When you were a little, what did you think you’d do or be?

Maureen: I wanted to go into the Air Force and perhaps do nursing. My mother said, “I don’t think so.” I said, “Okay.” I actually had a scholarship to go to the Repat. We lived in the country in the Western district, and I got this scholarship. I thought, “Okay. I’ll do that. I can live in.” Then my family moved to Ballarat and my father said to me, “Oh, you don’t have to go to Melbourne anymore. You can do that in Ballarat. I was never really passionate about nursing, I only really went because of the scholarship. Then I started my nursing in Ballarat and I resigned in my second year. I met my then-to-be husband who was a student at the Forestry School in Creswick. We got engaged after six weeks!

Oh wow. That’s pretty quick.

Maureen: My parents complained because I was still just under nineteen. He came to Melbourne to finish his degree and we got married twelve months later. He died ten years ago, we had four children, and I’ve been nursing ever since.

Did you grow to love nursing?

Maureen: Well, they wouldn’t take my resignation. They said, “You can have six months leave.” I had to have my mother with me for the discussion, which I thought was bizarre. But that was back in the 60s. Then I re-trained at ACU and did the whole thing again at tertiary level.

Was that some time later or is that just after?

Maureen: When I was my late thirties, I had four children – one of which was two. My husband was a research scientist and he was travelling oversees at the time. I got in and I thought “oh my god. What am I doing?” I did my degree – or my Diploma of Applied Science in Nursing – as it was then. Then I worked full time. Until I had a stroke two years ago during a medical procedure. I recovered well from that, went back to work and I thought, “You know what. I’m not doing this anymore.”

Wow. How did you feel after you resigned?

Maureen: A bit lost… I haven’t given up my registration. I may go back a few days a week yet, I’m not sure. I spent a lot of effort getting that qualification so I’m not quite ready to give it up.

That sounds like you’ve packed a lot in.

Maureen: I did, actually! There was always a baby in the house and my husband was always working. I suppose the biggest change came for me when my husband got sick and died very unexpectedly. Life changed very quickly… I think I spent a lot of my time wandering round the world, around Melbourne just feeling a gap that was there without my husband to enjoy anything with. I did lots of stuff and I enjoyed what I did, but it was still very lonely. I have a man in my life now, which was very unexpected.

How did you meet him?

Maureen: I was introduced to him. He’s someone probably that I would never have thought I would be involved with but he’s a very lovely man. He still works, he’s a little bit younger than I am. Totally different to my husband… but I feel like I’ve know him for a long time.

That’s really wonderful.  

Maureen: It’s a big thing to take up a relationship with someone in your sixties as opposed to before you turn twenty. In fact, my husband was older than I was but we kind of grew up together, if you know what I mean. He was my best friend – and that’s what we have to keep remembering. That this other person is not a replacement for my husband, it’s another phase of my life.

Speaking of phases, do you remember your very first pair of glasses? What they were like or do you remember how having to wear them made you feel?

Maureen: When I was quite young I learned that I had astigmatism in my eye and I was getting headaches. So I got glasses for eye strain and fatigue – at that stage I didn’t really need them for my sight. As I got older I found out that I had astigmatism in my other eye! I thought, “well, I’m going to really have really nice glasses,” so I did. I got the most expensive ones.

Do you remember an eccentric, silly or funny pair of glasses that you once bought?

Maureen: One of my most theatrical friends decided we’d get some dark green, cat-eyed sunglasses. If we went out, we would always wear these glasses and all put them on at the same time. I still have those glasses. They’re actually quite special when you put them on…. I like them. They’re somewhere in the house.

Lastly, how do you choose a pair of glasses?

Maureen: I just like something a little bit striking. I don’t like blank glasses. I can see why people do that but I feel, no. Perhaps it’s parts of me that it’s making a statement, I have no idea.

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