Note from BW of Brazil: With so much controversy and social ills that make the news everyday, sometimes it’s nice to just appreciate a nice life story. And our elders provide just that with lifetimes of experiences, wisdom and memories. Equal to the 79-year old Rio resident who earned her degree, and the 91-year old Novo Hamburgo resident who shared her memories of segregated movie theaters in southern Brazil, today’s couple who have celebrated seven decades of marriage, are also a life treasure to behold. No controversy here, just a celebration of life and love.
“The secret is to have patience,” reveals 101-year old man married for 70 years
About to celebrate the Bodas de Vinho (1), João e Maria give tips to new couples.
Senior citizens from Campinas have 6 children, 22 grandchildren, 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.
One hundred and one years old. Seven decades of marriage. The secret, only one: patience. To João Vicente, baptized João do Espírito Santo, tolerance is the recipe of longevity and such a durable life together. “We have to bear with the faults,” says the retiree, living in Campinas (São Paulo state) with his wife, Maria Marta Monteiro Vicente, 87, of 43 years. The couple has six children, 22 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
“I’m alive!”, he’s accustomed to saying every day in a form of thanks. He completed 101 years on Friday, September 4th and is about to celebrate the so-called Bodas de Vinho calls, of 70 years of marriage to the same woman. “I’m patient, I dispense many things. I like to deliver what I promised at the altar,” boasts João.
He remembers almost nothing of his childhood, only youth-related memories in the parish of Padre Cícero (Father Cicero), responsible for his baptism, and his flight to (the state of) Paraíba to try living alone and being a rubber welder in (the state of) Rondônia.
It was in Guajará Mirim (Rondônia) in 1944, that the couple met. There was no flirting. Through the intermediation of her brother and without her mother’s blessing, Maria Marta married Jo João the following year, at the time, 15 years her senior. “He came to my house, my brother told him that that day I was turning 18 years old. I studied in a nun’s school, stayed in a boarding school and had no intention of dating,” says Dona Maria.
“I was fast”
In 1945, João was a policeman, and therefore, the mother of Maria Marta didn’t support the marriage. But one day the invitation to go out was accepted. “And in the past, it was like this: (if you) went out together, you had to get married,” says the retiree.”
“I was fast, I couldn’t delay in getting married, and she on vacation from boarding school, I had to marry her before she wanted to go back there,” says João. The wedding was simple, the neighborhood church, without her the presence of Maria Marta’s mother and no records. “At that time there was no such thing as photos or albums,” says Maria.
Soon after their marriage, João’s most striking memory was the birth that he witnessed of his last child. “There was no time to take her to the hospital; the child would be born there. So she was giving me the directions and I made the delivery. I cut the cord, tied it, everything she said, I did, just right,” says João. Maria Marta’s mother was a midwife, so she knew how to guide him through the childbirth.
“I’m alive and healthy”
Of recent memories, João remembers Maria Marta being interned earlier this year. The retiree has a heart condition and spent about six weeks in the hospital. “He came to see me every day, took my hand, which was swollen, and asked God to take care of me and leave me healthy,” says Maria Marta.
The couple’s children hear the father say that he has just “old age problems”, and ensure that, as João never made use of alcohol or tobacco, he remains in good health. “He only has the age-related diseases,” said one of the daughters, Sandra Maria Vicente Wolffi.
To keep the mind and body healthy, João likes to tell childhood stories, the few he remembers. He doesn’t like listening to music, but loves watching television. “I root for São Paulo (futebol team), so no matter the day and time of the game, I’ll watch,” he says.
“Patience and understanding”
João ensures that he avoids fights, that he’s patient and takes care of his wife. “The secret is to fulfill what I promised at the altar,” says the retiree. And Maria Marta does the same. According to Jorge Vicente, one of the couple’s children, one is always preoccupied with the other. “Especially now with mother sick, the concern is even greater, the two take medicine, so one always asks the children if the other has been medicated, if they already ate…,” says Vicente.
“They do everything in order not to fight, are good to each other and fulfill the promise of marriage,” adds Vincent. The children said that the father used to say a popular northeastern saying “quem comeu a carne, que roa os ossos” (who ate the meat, nibbles the bones), so they do everything to stay together until the end.
The couple cannot define what love is. The affection for each other has grown as the years passed. The demonstration of affection and care define the feeling. “I like her very much, pure love, I wish all the best for her, especially health,” says João. And Maria Marta adds, “I wish him health and going back to walking straight and well.”
“In one of Mom’s birthday, we prepared a tribute and as he does not talk much, he put him to the side. He complained and said. ‘I won’t t say no?!’, and took the microphone and made the most beautiful statement of all, we were thrilled,” said another daughter, Rosália Vicente.
In this way with every year, since they’ve been together, the first piece of João’s birthday cake will be for Maria Marta. “I like this because it shows affection,” says the retiree. “They go a long time without kissing, so on those dates, they give each other a peck and look like birds, they’re very happy,” says Rosália.
- In Brazilian Portuguese, Bodas de Vinho is the name given to the celebration of 70 years of marriage. Likewise, 25 years is known as Bodas de Prato with prato meaning silver, which thus means Silver Anniversary. Bodas de Ouro, with ouro meaning gold, represents 50 years of marriage and thus a Golden Anniversary.