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HONEYMOONING AT 97

By NBF News

The publication in The Punch of July 27 made a good reading. It was on a marriage contracted in England between a man of 97 years and a woman of 87. According to the report, the two heartthrobs, Henry Kerr and Valeria Berkowitz, met in the Old People's home. Each of them had lost a spouse through death and each is blessed with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I congratulate them, especially the man, who initiated the whole thing. Had he disclosed his intension, some people might have discouraged him. Their marriage has proved a point, and that point is that age is no barrier to marital relationships. In fact, nothing does, once the two minds meet and are made up. The battle might have started with Uncle Henry, rationalizing when he was trying to convince himself whether he still needed a wife at that age. 'Remarry for what?' he would have asked himself severally and also provided the answer himself. If he must remarry, who would that be and how would he make the approach?

That might take him to the memory lane, recalling his adventure on that lane about 70 years ago. He would remember with pathos that at that time, he and Gladys, his late spouse, were young and good-looking. He was dressed, perhaps, in well-tailored-English suit with a matching neck tie. Though shy, but stimulating boldness, in a low tone and sparkling white teeth, he made his proposal. Today, you and I can guess how many teeth that age has left for him!

For four good years he resorted to writing love poems and letters in his toasting spree to Valeria Berkowitz, for it is what we have that God uses in working out the miraculous. Ndigbo have not stopped talking about an old woman who met two dogs mating and in utter anger for reminding her of what she had forgotten all the years, she beat them silly. Aunty Val's behaviour might be different. As a woman's smile gives vent for a man's love advances, her attitude might have encouraged our love-sick Henry to write more. And he did! Perhaps, his first poem and love letter might have merely amused her without leaving any trail. Perhaps, as he wrote more, he might have noticed that she was expecting them. When he noticed that the coast was clear, he followed it up with a formal proposal of marriage. She was said to have laughed hilariously at that.

Their marriage has once again confirmed that marriage is for companionship. During the youthful years, one has a lot of friends and close relations at one's beck and call. Poor health, death, old age, et cetera, keep the number diminishing till a time when one is absolutely lonely. At the age of 97, it is doubtful whether any of Uncle's school mates or friends is still living. At 87, his mistress might even be one of the oldest women in England. That might have made their desire for companionship of much essence.

Those who enter erroneously the marriage covenant on economic reasons should learn from this couple, for what could each of them, at that age, flaunt to attract the other? It is also a lesson for those whose choice of a spouse is influenced by physical appearance. At the age Uncle Henry and Aunty Val married, nature has stripped them of all human trappings, making their profession of love real.

The couple was said to have gone to an unknown place to consummate their marriage. This also underscores the importance of sex in marriage. Two months ago, I discussed with some students in Bible School about the abuse of sex by a 72-year-old woman. One of them shouted in fury, 'What is a person still doing with sex after 60 years of age?' That posture would affect her marriage negatively if not that her husband is late. I led them through Abraham's marriage profile where we noted the following: That he was about 100 years when Isaac was born. About 40 years later, when he was about 140 years, Isaac married. After Sarah's death, Uncle Abraham, even at that age, still married Keturah who had six sons for him.

Once again, I appreciate Henry and Val for recognizing the sanctity of the marriage institution by formalizing their relationship. We live in an age when cohabitation is thriving, making the waves among our youths and before you know it, a baby has been born! Engineer Ben Anozie and myself held a meeting a few weeks ago in Tarkwa Bay with a Pastor in Mountain of Fire on this subject. He had been in that Island for many years. He informed us that hardly could we meet any couple in that island that is properly married. We have found out that most of their wives hardly know where their husbands come from and most of the men do not know who their fathers-in-law are.

It is praiseworthy that Henry and Val did not ignore the gossiping mill about their relationship. They went ahead to marry formerly so as to leave a good example for their six children, 19 grandchildren and seven great-grand children.