Mary (83), is a resident at Bupa Winara Care Home in Waikanae, while John (85) still resides on the family farm nearby in Reikorangi.
Come the special day, on March 17, the care home was closed to visitors due to a COVID-19 outbreak - but knowing the importance of the occasion for the lovebirds, Bupa Winara team members went out of their way to reunite the pair.
“As I put it to the Manager, ‘I really would like to spend the day with Mary because I don’t expect to be around for another 60 years, so I need to make the most of this 60th Anniversary’,” John says.
It was arranged that John could visit Mary on compassionate grounds, however, instead of wearing a suit and tie, he would have to don full personal protection equipment (PPE) to keep himself and the care home residents safe.
While Mary wasn’t aware the surprise visit had been arranged, Diversional Therapist Joselie (Joy) Bucoy made sure Mary was dressed up for the occasion, helping her put on makeup and select some jewellery.
On the day, John arrived with a bunch of flowers and some sausage rolls for the couple to share for their morning tea.
“No pictures could paint the happiness in Mary’s eyes upon seeing the love of her life of 60 lovely years,” Joy says. “It is evident that both still have the love and passion for each other.”
Mary has been a resident at Bupa Winara Care Home for two years, and without fail every time John visits, she will “light up with excitement”, Joy says.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, John would accompany Mary to church services at the care home every Wednesday, and their four children and 11 grandchildren would visit and keep Mary up to date with the goings-on in their lives.
Mary is known to proudly recount the stories to the caregivers and nurses, while also fondly recalling the hard work and good times the husband and wife shared managing their family farm together.
John says the secret to their long and happy marriage has been a shared faith.
“I had prayed that God would lead me to meet the right person, that would be my future partner for life, and he actually organised that and I have always known,” he says.
“That is really what has held us together – the spiritual unity that we’ve had over the years.”