Happy Valentine’s Day: Words of wisdom from a couple celebrating their 76th anniversary
Valentine’s Day is an occasion for celebrating all kinds of love, and here at Feros Care, we’re privileged enough to witness love in all shapes and forms – whether it’s between family, friends, communities or those in relationships.
One of those couples is Feros Care clients Betty and John. The couple, who are based in Port Macquarie, are both 96 years old and celebrated their 76th anniversary in January.
The two of them have four children, nine grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. They’ve lived in 13 different places all over Australia. They’ve experienced war, flooding, a pandemic, mice plagues and locust plagues, not to mention the
changes and inventions along the way; mobile telephones, wireless televisions, fridges and washing machines. “Young ones these days wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a fuel stove, having to carry water to it!” Betty laughs.
So how do you live through 76 years with the one person – smiling through the good times, supporting each other through the not-so-good times?
Here are Betty and John’s top tips for long-lasting relationships of all kinds.
When you know, you know
Betty and John met as 20-year-olds in Sydney, at the end of World War II, when there was an ice-skating rink on George Street called the Sydney Glaciarium.
“In those days, everyone was army, air force and the navy, as it was during the war,” Betty explains. “When I met John at the ice-skating rink, I just knew he was the one. I can’t explain how you know that. He was nice-looking,
he looked handsome in his uniform, he smoked a pipe, he was so gentle and he never had a bad temper or anything like that.”
The two of them were engaged after six weeks, and then married five months after that, having to get their parents’ consent to marry due being under the age of 21.
“Due to war rationing, you could only have a one-tier wedding cake, as it used too much butter and sugar to have any more tiers,” Betty says. “You had to have coupons for everything, even to get the material for my wedding dress. But
we didn’t mind! We just fell for each other, well and truly.”
Show gratitude for each day
According to Betty, there’s beauty in the simplicity of it all when you learn to be content with what you have, especially after so many years with the same person.
“You get to understand a lot about each other, and there are some things you’d like to change but you can’t go back to change them,” Betty tells us. “And sometimes you just have to watch what you say, making sure you never
go to bed cranky with each other, always making up before you go to bed.”
According to the two of them, there’s a lot to be said for supporting each other through tough times, and showing up to simply love each other every day.
“Life’s more complicated these days! In our day it was so different, with no technology, it’s amazing what happens with mobile phones.” Betty says. “But no matter how much life has changed, there is so much to be said for
being content with what you’ve got.”
Keep busy, together
The two of them are still so busy, even 76 years on from their wedding day. Their mobility is limited compared to what it used to be – “you don’t move as quickly as you do when you’re 16!” John tells us – but with the
support of their family and Feros Care, they still live independently and do all their own cooking and washing.
“We’ve got everything we need and we’ve also got help,” Betty says. “The key is always having something to do – because doing things together is what keeps you busy. Feros have been fabulous, John and I have been learning
the iPad together. Now we can Skype people, including our one-year-old great-granddaughter in London.”
The two also have their weekly shopping, gardening and cleaning taken care of, so they have time to do more of what they enjoy doing together. John even makes his own bread for the two of them.
“I worked my whole married life. I was a dressmaker, plus I taught pottery and had a porcelain doll business in Sydney,” Betty adds. “Then John and I worked together for a long time after he retired. When you get to do things together,
it’s just wonderful.”
Tell people you love them
Because you might not get a chance again – and that’s something the two of them have learned after so many years and so many life events.
“Tell someone you love them every time you talk to them,” Betty says. “Whether it’s your husband, your children or your grandchildren, a friend – if you love someone, absolutely tell them. When I talk to my great-grandchildren
here or in London, I always make sure I tell them, ‘I love you’. And they say back, ‘I love you too.”
Commitment is key
When asked for the secret to a long-term marriage, John had the best possible answer.
“We can’t believe we are 96, I just love the girl,” he says. “But the recipe for being married for a long time? Just stay married! And love each other, that’s the main thing.”
“I recommend a kiss a day too!” added Betty.