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Resident story: The irrepressible Dulcie Forno

TriCare Aged Care Residences are wonderfully diverse, and everyone has a story to tell. It is a privilege for staff who get to hear from residents first-hand – in fact, the tales are so rich that they deserve a bigger audience. We hope these blogs provide insight into the amazing lives of our remarkable residents. This time, we meet Upper Mt Gravatt Aged Care resident Dulcie Forno and find out about how her love of writing and commitment to reaching out to others has helped her through life’s ups and downs.

Growing up in Roma, a rural community in Queensland, Dulcie never thought that one day she would be an award-winning writer – but that’s exactly how things turned out! It wasn’t by luck or chance, however. Dulcie’s dedication to her education and perseverance to achieve her goals, despite the setbacks that life had in store, kept her feet firmly on the road to success.

Early resilience

Dulcie’s early years in Roma were coloured by family closeness, living with her loving parents, a sister and two brothers. “I sometimes remember all the times Dad and I would put the little chickens in a shoebox when a bad storm came,” Dulcie says. Sadly, after the unexpected death of her father and her mother’s need to find work to support the family, Dulcie found herself striking out on her own at the ripe old age of 13 years!

Dulcie explains, “This was 1942, the war was raging, the men were away, and mum had to go way out west to a one-teacher school. My younger brother could go with mum, but they couldn’t take two children, so with a deep breath and lots of hope, my journey began.”

Dulcie was determined to receive an education and had her heart set on journalism as a potential career. Dulcie studied hard while living in a range of foster homes – some more welcoming than others – and her parents’ previous loving guidance stood her in good stead. She fondly remembers one foster family with whom she felt happy. The family used titles around the dinner table. “It was really nice being formal after some of the dodgy places [foster homes] previously,” Dulcie recalls.

Facing ebbs and flows

Later, Dulcie moved to Toowoomba to work. She and her friend enjoyed going out dancing three nights a week and fielding offers from potential suitors. In 1945, at the end of the war, Dulcie was working in Woolworths and recalled the joy and excitement of the day the end of the war was announced. “What a day that was, lots of tears, lots of joy, hoping their men could come home,” Dulcie says. “I was working at Woolworths, and they were taking all the sweets, anything they could find! The store manager told me to let them take whatever they wanted, then he burst into tears – he had just returned from Europe.”

Children came into the picture for Dulcie after she married in Gladstone. Her family was complete with one daughter and two sons, although sadly, Dulcie’s younger son recently passed away. Dulcie’s life has also been tinged with sadness due to her experience of mental illness beginning in the 1950s. Dulcie credits her medication and the support and understanding of others with helping her to manage her condition and encourages others to behave compassionately towards those suffering from mental illness.

“I’m pleased to see folk, myself included, show lots of understanding, as I know it is hard to accept something you cannot see. Lots of love and an “R U OK?” can mean so much. I have been able to help a few folk and it is a wonderful feeling worth more than all the gold. An Aussie “How’re you going, mate?” can mean everything to a bloke who may be struggling.”

More recently, Dulcie has been enjoying some well-earned achievements, receiving two media awards for excellence in 2005 and 2007 for writing short stories. “I was on cloud nine and drove everybody mad telling them over and over!” Dulcie says, proudly.

She credits journalist, and founder of Older People Speak Out, Val French AM, with helping and guiding her on her writing journey. Later, Dulcie reconnected with Val before her passing in 2020, when she moved into TriCare’s Willow Glen Retirement Community. By this time, Val had been diagnosed with dementia, and Dulcie was happy to repay her friend’s kindness by helping Val through her dementia battle

Boundless joy

Despite the challenges that Dulcie has faced over her lifetime, she continues to greet the world with a positive outlook. She is a regular participant at Discussion Group and spends time writing poems. Dulcie has this to say about life at TriCare Upper Mt Gravatt Aged Care:

“Now I’m in a TriCare Aged Care Residence I’ve won first prize. Caring for us is their priority, and the warmth that comes through – we don’t really need an air conditioner! I do have times with my old problems, so if this old girl in #136 seems odd, a smile, a hug and an “RU OK” does wonders. God bless you all and may The Crimson Rosella of Happiness come to rest in your gum trees.”

What wonderful advice! Thank you for sharing your gift and your story with us this week, Dulcie!

To find out more about Upper Mt Gravatt Aged Care Residence or book a private tour, simply click here.

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