57 years! Who would have thought it? The number of good wishes we received was stunning too, many of them from people we don’t even know, but who wished us well nonetheless!
The vast majority came from the (now) enormous family we belong to, known as Starts at 60 – the swiftly growing group of people who share both age and experience with Jacqui and I. They can appreciate what an achievement a marriage that has lasted this long represents.
They are well aware, as we have found out over the years, that the bond of marriage has to be worked at, to be a success, and worked at jolly hard too. In its simplest form marriage is a job, just like any other and as such there will be successes and failures, differences of opinion, occasional unhappiness and wonderful moments of joy.
We began with a major start over a lot of other couples, with a new life awaiting us in New Zealand, providing a stable beginning, but also offering the excitement and adventure of leaving everything we knew behind us and finding brand new challenges before us.
I am so glad we had that – it forced us to be completely independent of anyone but ourselves; there was no ‘Mummy’ Jacqui could rush home to if we had a row, (and there were some!). There were no lifelong mates to assure me I had been mistaken to get wed, and that I should go out with them and get blind drunk so I could forget all about it – and I might meet a nice bird while I was there too!
No, we had to rely on our own resources, and that was the best thing that could have happened to us, it taught us that we had to take responsibility for our actions. It’s an attitude that has remained with us ever since. Even in the hardest of times, and there have been some of those in more recent years, we have never gone cap-in-hand to relatives or friends, asking for hand-outs, just perhaps the occasional request for some help to move heavy furniture or something like that, but I don’t reckon that counts!
There have been the truly memorable moments too, the balloon flight across part of the south of England, the complete circumnavigation of the world by sea; in the ‘Rangitoto’ to New Zealand in 1959, and then back to England in 1963, on board the ‘Oriana’.
We’ve had three wonderful kids, one of whom can be a bit of a problem, but we love them all, and I believe they all love us too. The youngest of them is now fifty two years old, but they still remain close to us, not all in physical distance, with Kerry living on the other side of the world, but emotionally. Even Kerry we speak to at least once a week on FaceTime, which is just like having her in the room with us, and she’s coming out to visit us in April!
I, and I’m sure Jacqui, have no regrets for the life we chose for ourselves, the things that went wrong taught us what not to do next time, while the things that went right were there to be enjoyed, as hard as we could enjoy them. We have accumulated a great ring of friends around us, both here in Yarram and in the wider world of SaS, not to mention the old school friends I’ve managed to get in touch with through the magic of the internet and who also remain in contact with us on a quite regular basis.
On top of that we both write for SaS, and do quite a bit of painting, without the pressures of deadlines, etc… In fact life really couldn’t be better, especially when we received over two thousand well wishes from so many people, it’s things like that which make you realise it’s all been worthwhile!