Two world wars, global pandemics and financial crises, and countless Australian Prime Ministers — Joan Bush has lived through all of it.
- Joan celebrated with family and friends at her retirement home on Tuesday with cake and champagne
- She lived through two world wars and was born two days before the Titanic sank
- She was still exercising up until 12 months ago and always challenged herself, learning French and how to play bridge
Celebrating her 109th birthday, it’s believed Joan is the oldest person in Victoria, and only a few years behind the oldest in the country.
Even for Joan it’s a feat that’s hard to believe.
Joan celebrated the remarkable milestone in the company of her family and friends at a retirement village in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.
“Today’s very special,” said Joan’s first son, Richard Bush, 76.
On Sunday, she marked the special birthday a few days early to be with her extended family, including one of seven great grandchildren, baby Audrey.
She has three children, 10 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, although that tally is expected to grow.
“It’s a great sign of how families grow and develop and how they have a history,” Mr Bush said.
“The history can be hard at times to remember, but if you have a living relative over 100 years it makes that history more alive, more tangible.
“You can understand the things that Joan did. She lived through both world wars, which is extraordinary.”
Born in Somerset, England, in 1912 — just two days before the Titanic sank — Joan was only 22 when she moved on her own to a British army base in Lucknow, India, in the 1930s.
She met her late husband Dick during WWII, before emigrating to Australia in 1947 and eventually becoming a full-time mother at home.
“It’s a great innings!” said Jo-Anne Buhler, who is Joan’s favourite carer at the retirement village.
“[She’s an] amazing lady. No hearing aids, no false teeth, no glasses. Avid reader. Loves reading a book,” Ms Buhler said.
“Clean, [she has] to be clean. She’s quite a trooper.
“Up until probably about 12 months ago she was still doing exercises with us.”
Joan always took care of her health, ate well, learnt French, taught herself bridge and played a lot of golf with her husband.
Her family credits her longevity to staying active and constantly challenging herself.
“Being involved, taking on new challenges. I think it’s a good message, one we should all probably learn from,” Mr Bush said.