Just for Valentines Day, I thought I’d share this article I wrote for the paper this week! Enjoy!
74 years of young love
Couple recounts happy marriage
By NGOVOU GYANG
In 1939 William Rhymer was 23, and he considered himself a “charmer” in his Soldier Hill neighbourhood. But despite all his luck with the ladies, only one of them captured his heart: 19-year-old Josephine Nibbs.
So he sent her parents a letter asking for permission to date their daughter.
“That time, the parents were plenty strict with them daughter and so on,” Mr. Rhymer said during an interview on Tuesday at the couple’s Soldier Hill home. “You had to be careful in them days.”
Mr. Rhymer received permission, and after a year of dating the couple married. They have been together ever since.
On Tuesday, as birds chirped and wind blew through their hilltop home, Mr. Rhymer, 97, leaned over and kissed his 94-year-old wife.
After 74 years and 10 children, the couple said, the romance still has not gone out of their marriage.
As they reminisced, they sat on a bed covered in red sheets — the colour they use each year to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
“It has given me everything, in Jesus’ name,” said Ms. Rhymer, who wore a red floral gown and a straw hat that covered her grey hair. “I didn’t know what was in [Mr. Rhymer’s] mind then, but I was touched and I was happy.”
Apart from being beautiful, Ms. Rhymer was different from other girls her age, her husband recalled.
“When I met her, she was plenty shy,” he said. “But after I charm her, her head fell right in my arms. I charmed her the best among other men.”
Mr. Rhymer had lots of other choices, he added. “At 24, there was a lot of things on my mind. There were six [women] watching me at the time. But she was shy and quiet. I met the right one.”
In his eyes, his wife hasn’t changed much since then.
“For 74 years, you know, you see she is still shy of me,” he said as she giggled, looking away.
“He is still my prince charming,” she said.
Their 1940 wedding in Soldier Hill was a community celebration.
“We had a lot of goats and even roast pig,” Ms. Rhymer recalled. “It was a big wedding, and they even put up a tent. It was a lot of people.”
The celebration continued for about a week, her husband added.
After their marriage, Mr. Rhymer did his best to take care of his wife, he said.
“When I married her, I didn’t meet her out there working for nobody, and so I took care of her so that she didn’t have to work for nobody,” he said. “Things are different now from our days.”
The secret to a long marriage is openness, the couple agreed.
“We got married and we’ve lived a happy life. When two people get married to each other, you don’t hide things from each other,” he said. “You could see I’m taking care of her still. Even after 74 years, I still have her looking like a teenager.”
They also shared all they had with one another.
“Her dollar is mine and mine is hers,” he said. “She is in charge of whatever it is that I own. I never carried money to the bank or take money from the bank. The only time I went in there is to sign my name, and that’s it. She took charge of everything from there.”
While Mr. Rhymer farmed and fished, his wife maintained order in the home.
“I tried my best to raise the kids,” she said. “I gave them good training and good education.”
The fulltime homemaker attributed the couple’s longevity to their diet and lifestyle. “We ate more fish than meat, even though there was a lot of meat then,” she said.
Mr. Rhymer agreed: “She used to cook the best fish.”
Seventy-four years of marriage wasn’t without its challenges, however.
“Tongue and teeth does fall out, but we never go to bed with vexation,” Mr. Rhymer said. “Never do that.”
Asked if they would change anything about their past, they both answered in the negative.
“We lived this married life for 74 years now. We don’t have tongue enough to give the heavenly father thanks and praise,” Mr. Rhymer said. “We lived this long, happy married life on earth, and we will want to live it around God’s holy throne.”
Several times during the interview, the couple quoted Bible scriptures.
“As I always tell her, ‘If I go before you, don’t disappoint me,’” Mr. Rhymer said. “‘I’m going to be right there, over the bank of the river, waiting to welcome you home.’”