Couple reunited for Christmas

Doug hold his wedding photo as his wife Miriam sits beside him, Miriam has had a stroke

Couple reunited for Christmas

Christmas has come a little early for a husband and wife from regional New South Wales who have spent the past six years living apart.

After 64 years of marriage, farming couple Doug and Miriam Milne, from Orange in central-west New South Wales, have been reunited and are now able to live together. It is all because of the redevelopment of a nursing home which now includes double rooms.

Never more than 500m apart

Mr and Mrs Milne met in 1948 at the local country show, ‘went together’ for four years and then married and had two daughters. The Milnes initially share farmed and then saved enough to buy a block of land near Orange, build a home and plant a cherry orchard.

“It was a good family life,” Mr Milne said. “The first 20 years we were married, I wouldn’t have been more than four or five hundred metres away from Miriam. “We knew each other so well and that was our life together.”

Separated by a stroke

When Mrs Milne had a stroke six years ago she moved into the Uniting Wontama nursing home at Orange, while Mr Milne stayed on the orchard. He visited his wife every day but did not enjoy having to go back home alone every night. “It wasn’t so good when we were so used to being together all our life,” Mr Milne said.

Their daughter Heather agreed. “Those six years were very hard for dad because they’re very close and dedicated to one another and mum too, she’s been unwell,” Heather said.

Eventually, 18 months ago Mr Milne also moved to the Wontama aged care site, but had to be in a different building to his wife.

Reunited by redevelopment

A new $33 million development of the aged care centre where the Milnes live has meant the couple can once again live together – in a double room.

“It’s very good [that] I don’t have to travel home. It is more relaxing,” Mr Milne said.

Although meals and other necessities are provided at the centre, Mr Milne said he enjoys being able to care for his wife. “Talk and help her, if she wants anything I can go and get it, so that’s good in that way. It’s just being together, togetherness,” he said.

Their daughter is also pleased, “Moving into the new building has been lovely for them,” she said. “The way they set this up, it’s like a family home, it’s like being back together as one.”

Now that Christmas has been sorted for the Milnes, Mr Milne has expressed his hopes for 2017. “That everyone will be a lot happier in the world and it will be a better place to live,” he said.

This story was published on the ABC website.

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