Half a century of devotion

MARRIED 51 years last month, Martin Jansen, 73, and his wife Catherine, 71, have survived trying times and celebrated many milestones.
The couple said their love for each other and their neighbourhood was what kept them happy in their Bloemendal residence.
Finding love in their hometown, Loerie, the Jansens decided to move to Gelvandale in 1978 to get a fresh start in the friendly city. Martin made his income as a Firestone tyre builder, and his wife catered from home. Since then the Jansens have been blessed with five children and 10 grandchildren.
But after 15 years in Gelvandale, the concerned mother felt it was time to move to a quieter suburb.
“During that time gangsterism was rife. As parents we were very concerned about the safety of our children. Every time they left the house we feared they wouldn’t return.
“My husband wasn’t very eager to move, but Bloemendal is home now. When people walk past the house and they don’t see Martin they shout ‘Waar is die ou man?'” Catherine said.
However, as is the case in all areas, one can always fall victim to crime. They have had their home broken into twice. During one of the incidents Catherine managed to grab the intruder and tie his wrists and feet together before the police arrived.
But that was the least of their problems.
Martin lost both his legs through diabetes and recently suffered a mild stroke which resulted in him losing mobility in his right hand, and slightly affected the motor nerves in his left hand.
“I admire his strength. He doesn’t act like a sickly person and he still does whatever he can by himself. Initially I had to help him eat and do day-to-day things, but now he has found ways around these challenges.
“He taught me to never look down on anyone. He suffered a major setback but it hasn’t changed him in the slightest,” Catherine explained.
The courageous husband talked about how life would place obstacles in your path but only you could determine the outcome.
“Life is not easy all the time. There will always be challenges, for example my health issues. It doesn’t help to be bitter about it. Instead I taught myself to do things for myself. But my wife has been my pillar of strength. She taught me to take it in my stride,” Martin said.

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