Friendship that stands the test of time

The inspiring tale of friendship between Katoomba volunteer Patricia McKeown and 107-year-old Bodington (aged care) resident Georgie Jefferies is certainly one for the ages.

Mrs McKeown — one of 19 people presented with a 2014 Blue Mountains Seniors Week recognition award last month — has volunteered for decades for Katoomba Hospital’s Pink Ladies, St Hilda’s Church in Katoomba and the Leura Country Women’s Association branch.

But it was her lesser-known regular visits to Bodington residents, particularly Ms Jefferies, that struck a chord with the audience at the awards ceremony at Springwood Sports Club.

The two have known each other for 30 years, but became close friends in the late 1990s through volunteering for St Hilda’s Church.

In 2008 Ms Jefferies was named Blue Mountains Citizen of the Year for her own substantial voluntary work in the community since the 1940s.

During a visit to Bodington last Friday, Ms Jefferies told the Gazette Mrs McKeown became “a pivotal part of my life”.

“We enjoy each other’s company and we share lots of interests like gardening and cooking,” Ms Jefferies said.

“Patricia is a very special person to me, especially now because my family are all [reside] far distant.”

Mrs McKeown helps Ms Jefferies do the laundry and similar chores but continues to be inspired by what she is still able to do for herself.

“She doesn’t surprise me though — we still go out shopping and Georgie will get a trolley, vroom around the aisles and leave me for dead.

“We get along great and we love to chat.

“I ask her questions about many different things — she’s been around a long time, you see.”

Mrs McKeown said she finds volunteering rewarding, especially spending quality time with people in need.

“If you are trying to help people, I just think it’s natural to do that kind of thing.

“Some people just need a chat.”

Ms Jefferies said there were ups and downs to being 107 and while her body can sometimes let her down, “I still have all my marbles”.

“The worst part is I’m no longer able to live on my own, which I was doing [in Katoomba] until I was 105.

“But I’m able to do many things — I still like to read, to go shopping and I remain a member of the Upper Blue Mountains Probus Club.

“You just have to be positive in life and keep involved in things.”

When asked about modern society, Mrs Jefferies was familiar with the terms generations ‘Y’ and ‘i’.

“There are more temptations in their daily lives compared to when I was growing up.

“The term teenagers was unknown in my time — you were either a child or an adult.

“Although, girls were sometimes called flappers once they turned 18 . . . the pretty ones!”

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