Wave from bicycle was start of 70-year union

Gordon and Joan Homer, of Alexandra,  who celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary today. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
Gordon and Joan Homer, of Alexandra, who celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary today. Photo by Sarah Marquet.

They may not hear too well these days but Joan (90) and Gordon (91) Homer, of Alexandra are still finishing off each other's sentences.

In fact, asking them about their lives sends them off on tangents as they rediscover old memories, each taking turns to complete what the other is saying.

Engrossed in their memories, they often chuckle at each other as one says: ''No, it didn't happen like that''. They will spend today celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.

''You [had] better take me out for dinner then,'' she tells him with a huge smile.

Their relationship started with a wave, back when they were both living in Dunedin. At the time, he was working at the Hillside Railway Workshops and she was making ladies garments ''and all sorts of things'' at Ross and Glendinings.

''I was biking out from town to Hillside and Joan was biking in to town and one day I went like that,'' Mr Homer said, demonstrating his wave.

He said there were ''quite a lot of dances in those days too'' and listed a few before Joan (nee McDowell) spoke.

''Gordon, you're making me feel tired talking about what we did.''

''Well you were 20 then, my dear,'' he replied.

Though Mr Homer denies it, Mrs Homer said there was competition for his affection.

''He took two girls to the pictures and then he chose me ... just as well he chose me.''

Soon after, they were married in a ceremony at the St Clair Presbyterian Church.

''I went home and told my mother that we were going to get married and she says: `Do you have to','' he said as they both started laughing.

It was only a small ceremony and there was no honeymoon - he was on final leave before the army sent him to serve in Tonga and Fiji during World War 2.

''And I was so sad that he was going away, wasn't I Gordon?''

''Yes, but we used to write to each other every day ... I won't tell you what was in the letters,'' he said with a grin.

After the war, the couple started their own business in Dunedin - Homer Knitwear - and supplied outlets such as Arthur Barnett and Wolfenden and Russell for about 24 years.

They then moved to Palmerston North, Riversdale and Invercargill to work in various churches before settling in Alexandra, ''for the good weather'', they agreed.

''We used to come to Clyde for holidays ... we just had a wee car with everything bar the kitchen sink packed into it,'' he said.

These days the couple lead a much quieter life.

''I just sit in my chair. I can't walk very well, I don't go out much these days but I am quite content to sit in my nice chair,'' she said.

Mr Homer is more mobile and gets out to play bowls.

He also cooks all the meals.

The couple have daily help from social services, for which they are very grateful.

''They're just marvellous,'' she said.

They agree love and tolerance are the secrets to a long and healthy marriage.

''We've never really had a cross word,'' she said.

''We all have differences of opinion but we've not had rows,'' he said.

They also credit the Church and ''living by Christian principles''.

While they admit 70 years of marriage is an achievement, they agreed ''it's not that long''.

''Life on Earth is just a fleeting moment. When you think about eternal life, that's a long time.''

The couple celebrated their anniversary with family two weeks ago.

- sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz