As many of you know, my quest to find Brisbane’s longest married couple was a personal project I embarked upon in January. It’s a project that I have been meaning to do for a number of years but kept putting off because I was ‘too busy’. Well, 2013 is the year where I want to stop putting off some of the non-urgent things in life, so this was one of the first on my list. When I put out the word that I was searching, I didn’t know who would respond and what kind of years I would be finding. My husband’s grandparents in NSW have been married for 66 years, which is an amazing achievement, and I thought perhaps there might be a couple who had beaten that.
I had quite a number of sweet couples in their 50th and 60th years and then when I received an email from one couple’s grand-daughter I realised that my dream had come true to surpass 66. And by quite a long shot I might add! Walter and Amy have been married for 74 years. Yes, married for 74 years! And they themselves are 96 and 97 years of age. It was such a pleasure to meet them! As I sat with them for a cup of tea, you wouldn’t have known their ages. They were a spritely pair and I had a wonderful time with them, hearing their story and laughing with them. Most of us could only wish to be that switched on and joyful at such an age! As I talked with them I realised that perhaps that is what has kept them going so long. The laughter. People say joy is the best medicine and I can certainly tell you that they both enjoyed chatting and sharing their story. Amy was the talker and Walter was much quieter but would occasionally share a funny story or a cheeky grin which I loved.
They had met each other in the 1930′s. Amy was heading to an Ambulance Picnic (seaside festival) with a few friends, one of whom was Walter’s sister. As the girls approached the group of young men, Walter poked his head out from under a truck he was working on to say hello. Amy says she immediately thought “Ooh, that looks nice!’ as she looked at Walter (her words exactly!). And so she persued Walter and he ‘let her walk around on his arm”. Their first date was a trip to the movies at the Regent Centre in Brisbane. She thought Walter was very good looking and organised everything for them to court. When they got married in 1939 they began life with just two shillings and themselves. They spoke a lot about starting with nothing but themselves and then building a life around that. Perhaps there is a secret in that, when we love each other and choose to be together for nothing but ourselves (not wealth, or status or any material thing) a bond can be formed at the deepest level. And then everything else becomes a bonus.
Their greatest achievement they say, is in staying together. It was a proud moment when they received a letter from Queen Elizabeth congratulating them on their 70th anniversary (Walter is keen to receive his 100th birthday card in a few years too!). They worked hard to create a good life and home for their three children. And family life has been their greatest joy too. Amy remembers the arrival of her firstborn like it was yesterday. It was so amazing to see the excitement in her eyes when she told me what it was like to hold her baby girl in her arms for the first time, she recalled it as if it were yesterday. And it was interesting to hear her refer to her youngest boy too – “he is my baby, I still call him that, even though he is 68!”
Care seems to be a big key for these two. Care for each other, care for their family, care for their home. Walter cares for Amy. Every morning he cooks her breakfast and cares in practical ways. Amy cares for Walter. She dotes on him and calls him “Love”. When asked what they would say to someone young in marriage and family they said “You have to take the good with the bad. You have to try hard at marriage”. They’ve realised that anything worth having is worth investing in. They’ve made a point never to go to sleep on an argument or let things fester. Amy says “don’t be selfish” in your marriage. Walter says “don’t give up” when things get tough.
It’s amazing the thought that if two people put each other ahead of themselves and believe in the bond of marriage, something wonderful can happen. Enjoy a little peek at this sweet couple. I am so pleased to have met them, I only wished I could have stayed longer! xx Maddie