When I was three, my mother’s best friend had two children — a boy and a girl. When my mum would visit I would go along to play with the little girl, Jo-anne, who was the same age as me. We became best friends. The girl’s older brother would tease us and pester us relentlessly.
Jo-anne and I started kindergarten in the same year and became closer than ever. We’d have sleepovers at each other’s houses and our families would also holiday together.
However, Anthony, Jo-anne’s brother, became more of a pest. He would howl up the chimney in the house where they lived just to scare us. When we screamed in fright, we would get into trouble. Jo-anne and I would think up ways to get him into trouble because he was so annoying.
One day my mother came home to tell me that my best friend was moving away. I had no idea where Alice Springs was, but knew it was a long way away and that Jo-Anne and I would no longer see each other.
The day she left I cried so much my mother had to carry me from the airport back to our car. I was shattered. At the time I felt as though my whole world had ended. I admitted that I would even miss Anthony and his teasing!
We tried to keep in touch, and there was one visit back to Adelaide (where we lived) after they left, but soon we had drifted apart.
Eleven years went by and, aged 16, I found some old cards that had been sent from Alice Springs to my home. It made me miss my friend, so I picked up the phone and called directory assistance (remember that?!) and asked for the phone number.
Once I had the number I took a chance and called it. Hey presto! I was back in touch with my old friends.
In a twist of good fortune, Anthony was coming to Adelaide for the Christmas holidays that year. He was nearly 19. We arranged to meet up.
When we met, Anthony revealed he had few memories of those times he used to tease Jo-anne and I. We had nothing in common as young children, but now we were becoming strong friends. Anthony went back to Alice Springs after the holidays, but we kept in touch, writing letters and calling each other on Sundays (because it was cheaper to call on Sunday afternoons than any other time during the week).
Over the next two years whenever Anthony was in Adelaide visiting his relatives, he’d always make a point of catching up with me. Our friendship grew. I could tell him about everything that was going on in my life — day-to-day happenings, boyfriends, work and family. He felt comfortable sharing the same things with me.
Right before my 18th birthday, Anthony was visiting. I had a boyfriend, but I wanted to break up with him. I was talking to Anthony about the best way to do this while causing the least amount of pain. Anthony said, “Marry me. It will solve all your problems.”
I thought it was a great joke, laughing out loud when he said it. But, later that evening when he was leaving my house he asked me for my answer. I was confused. It took him another 45 minutes, but he asked me to marry him and I said yes.
Anthony and I were married on my 19th birthday. He was 22. Everyone said we were young, but we followed our hearts and jumped in feet first.
We had four children of our own and fostered three more. We’re still together and now have eight grandchildren to dote on.
We have loved through the ages and are proof that sometimes when you find love, it can last forever. It might not have been ‘love at first sight’ but we’re the best of friends and have a deep respect for one another. I’m hopeful it’s enough to see us through another 40 years together.