Most married couples envision growing old with their spouse -- sitting in the proverbial rocking chairs on the porch, playing with the grandkids, and maybe dancing on their 50th wedding anniversary if they’re lucky. One lucky couple did that ... 30 years ago. Then they kept on keeping on, and recently celebrated their 80th anniversary.
Eighty years is a long time to live, but to make it to 80 years of marriage is something special. John Betar and Ann Shawah tied the knot on November 25, 1932 in New York, the same year that FDR beat Herbert Hoover in the presidential election and gas cost 10 cents a gallon.
Eight decades later, the couple will be honored this Saturday for having the longest union in the U.S.
It was the wedding that almost didn’t happen though -- 17-year-old Ann was engaged to be married in a pre-arranged union to a man 20 years her senior! Her immigrant parents felt that he would be a good provider for her, but she took her chances with John and the two eloped.
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Both from immigrant families, the couple met growing up in the same Syrian community in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After grammar school, John took a job as a fruit peddler, but took the time to drive Ann and her friends to high school in his Ford Roadster. “I fell for her right away,” he says, all these years later.
These two have truly lived the American dream. John turned his fruit peddling into entrepreneurship, opening his own grocery store, Betar’s Market, in 1938. Ann stayed home and raised their five children, and the couple claims that the 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren they now have “bring new life” and light into their lives.
So how did they make it 80 years and still in love? Ann says, "There are so many things in a lifetime that can make you very, very happy and very, very sad, but if you can do it together, then it's happiness.” John wisely adds, "Get along. Compromise. Live within your means and be content ... and let your wife be the boss."
The couple continues to praise God for their many blessings and good times together. They still live independently and actively at the ages of 97 and 101. They like to cook together, take outings looking for the best produce, read, and keep up with the news.
What an awesome couple. We should all be so fortunate.
Does this couple make you look forward to growing old with your mate?
Image via Cris Valencia/Flickr