Solid as a rock

Octayvia Nance

ALTHOUGH it was the bouquet that Mary Gatiep was carrying that caught Douglas Terblanche’s eye, Mary said it she noticed him first – and she fell in love from the moment she saw him. This month, Booysen Park’s Oom Dougie and Aunty Mary celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary, and they still have eyes only for each other.

“We met one night at a social gathering in Cape Town. She passed me with a nice bouquet of flowers and I said ‘I like your bouquet’ and asked whether she’d share a flower with me. She said ‘sure, I will,'” reminisced Dougie. “Then we chatted and got to know each other and one Sunday afternoon I put on my best suit – to impress both her and her parents – and visited her home.”

Just nine months later he asked Mary’s parents for permission to marry her, and they were wed at St Mark’s Anglican Church in Cape Town on December 5 1953. He was 22 and she was 21. “We had a big wedding. It was the best day of my life. My favourite moment was when I stood at the front of the church as she approached me up the aisle.

“We had the reception at her home and we left at about 10pm and disappeared into thin air – our little secret,” he said.

From Cape Town he was transferred to Humansdorp where they lived for 11 years until moving to Port Elizabeth. He described proudly how he started at Naspers’ Oosterlig in 1978 as the first non-white machine minder.

Mary enjoys being spoilt by her husband, who cooks and cleans for her: “He does everything. He caters for me. He even does the shopping. I can just relax all the time. I can just thank the Lord that he has blessed me with such a good husband. He looks after me, always.”

They have four daughters: Verna, Merl, Wilma and Bernice, 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“You know, marriage isn’t always smooth sailing. There are ups and downs and you just need to overcome your tiffs. Have open communication and sit down with each other. You need to share your views and opinions and try not to have the same thing happen again.

“A husband’s character must be very gentle towards his wife. He must respect his wife and she must respect him. You need to be a partnership and help each other. Remember and stick to the vows you’ve made on your wedding day – through sickness and health.

“She let me look into her eyes and I saw right to her heart. She is my first and my last.”

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