A second chance at love after a brush with death

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Carolyn and Graham Mesecke, 80. [Source: Supplied]

Married couple of 57 years, Carolyn and Graham Mesecke, no longer take a single day with each other for granted.

When Graham suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest in 2016, the scare not only brought the retirees face-to-face with losing each other, but it also served as a reminder to cherish the simple joys of life and love.

“I knew something was wrong so I called for an ambulance and started getting ready to do CPR,” Carolyn said.

“I remember telling the operator I thought he had died.

Graham agreed: “Ever since then, we’ve had a different approach to life. We recognise how lucky we are to be here together,” he said.

After Graham’s brush with death, the couple – both now 80 – decided to sell their family home and holiday home by the river so they could spend less time maintaining their properties and more time doing the things they love.

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Graham and Carolyn on their wedding day in October 1966 after meeting at 16 years old when Graham joined Carolyn’s church. [Source: Supplied]

They moved into the Levande Ridgehaven Rise retirement village and now spend their time focused on each other and their individual interests.

Graham’s interests include building Lego, family history, cooking and spending time with friends. Carolyn’s interests include spending time with friends, singing, theatre and organising theatre outings for the village and the Probus Club which is held in the village.

“We found it very comforting to move into the village and find so many friendly people. We’ve enjoyed it here very much and felt so welcome as soon as we moved in,” Graham said.

“The number of 80th birthday cards we’ve both recently received from all the people in the village has been so heart-warming.

“We enjoy the friends we’ve made and going to many different events, such as the social club, happy hour and Monday night ‘port and talk’ in the hall.”

When asked about her advice for a long and happy marriage, Carolyn said you can’t always get your own way and have to pick your battles. 

“Don’t take anything for granted and also have some independence in your lives. You can follow what you love to do and also do things together.

“I don’t ever have to worry about going out and leaving Graham behind because he has his interests, and I can follow mine. Our interests are different but he’s always there to support me. I couldn’t do it without him.”

When asked about his advice for a long and happy marriage, Graham said, “We share everything, it’s always been ‘ours’ not ‘mine’.”

“Be prepared to listen and compromise,” he said.

“You do get to a place where you know your place – allow the other person to do what they’re best at.

“Respect and let them make decisions where they’re the expert. But if you disagree, speak up.”

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