50 years to marry my long-lost love

Chris­tine spent a life­time yearn­ing for her first love

that's life (Australia) - - Contents - Chris­tine Bet­teridge, 68, Ca­bool­ture, Qld

He likes you a lot, you know, but he’s too scared to ask you out,’ Clyde Se­nior smiled, nod­ding at his son, also called Clyde.

We all worked at a shoe fac­tory – even Clyde’s mum, Jean. Aged 16, I’d had my eye on the sweet 18-year-old, too.

A week later, Clyde plucked up the courage to ask me on a date. From then on, we were in­sep­a­ra­ble.

‘One day, we’ll get mar­ried,’ he promised.

Then, when we’d been a cou­ple for two happy years, I fell preg­nant.

Clyde bravely strode up my front steps ready to ask my dad for my hand in mar­riage. But the poor thing didn’t make it in the house – Dad flew out scream­ing and chased Clyde off down the street.

‘Never come near my daugh­ter again!’ he yelled.

I was des­per­ate to go af­ter him, but Mum held me tight.

It was early 1968 and just two weeks later Clyde was called up to serve in the Viet­nam War.

What if he doesn’t make it back? I thought, distraught.

My par­ents sug­gested I marry a fam­ily friend my age. Hav­ing had po­lio as a child, he wouldn’t be drafted.

I kept putting off the wed­ding, hop­ing Clyde would re­turn, but at eight months along, I had no other choice.

A month af­ter the wed­ding, our beau­ti­ful son Ray was born. With his pierc­ing blue eyes, he looked just like his father.

‘Your daddy wanted you so much,’ I’d say, cradling him.

Jean and Clyde Se­nior met their grand­son, who they wrapped in cud­dles and love.

They never men­tioned Clyde and I didn’t ask.

But walk­ing down the street four years later, I saw him. ‘Clyde!’ I gasped. Invit­ing him over for a cof­fee, I thought my heart would burst see­ing him play with Ray.

I hadn’t told our boy who his real daddy was yet – he was still too lit­tle to un­der­stand.

Clyde had big news though – he was mar­ried and mov­ing to Queens­land.

‘You were al­ways the one for me,’ he said.

But our lives had moved in dif­fer­ent direc­tions and we were with other peo­ple.

My hus­band treated Ray like his own and we had three more beau­ti­ful kids.

When our mar­riage broke down af­ter nine years, we re­mained friends, but Clyde was never far from my thoughts.

Then many years

later, aged 65, I was on Face­book and typed in Clyde’s name. Noth­ing!

I’d looked for Clyde in the past with­out any luck, but I’d al­ways promised Ray, then 46, I’d find his dad, so I kept dig­ging.

I won­der if Clyde’s lit­tle sis­ter Au­drey is still alive?

I thought.

Find­ing her pro­file, I felt a thrill.

Writ­ing to Au­drey, she replied, promis­ing she’d pass on my mes­sage.

Quickly, a note from Clyde popped into my in­box, ask­ing for my num­ber.

Hurry up and ring!

I thought, af­ter send­ing it.

Then, fi­nally, my mo­bile buzzed and I heard Clyde’s voice for the first time in nearly 50 years. It was like no time had passed!

Turns out, he was di­vorced too, with three kids.

Break­ing the news to Ray, he was silent and his eyes brimmed with tears. Later, he called to apol­o­gise.

‘Mum, I’m so sorry. I was just stunned,’ he said. ‘You’ve ac­tu­ally found him!’

Af­ter chat­ting with Clyde ev­ery sin­gle day for a month, it was time to re­unite.

Meet­ing at Ray’s, I nearly knocked Clyde over with a huge bear hug.

Two peas in a pod, Clyde and Ray bawled as they held each other.

Now that Clyde was back in our lives, there was no way we were let­ting him go!

The years apart had deep­ened our love and a year on Clyde asked me to move to Queens­land. Ray in­sisted on driv­ing me there!

‘I’m tak­ing you to my dad,’ he said.

Still the gen­tle­man – ev­ery morn­ing Clyde would bring me a cof­fee and my favourite orange cream bick­ies in bed.

‘You’re like 16-year-olds!’ my youngest Peta, 45, who lives with us, laughed. ‘I have to walk around with my fin­gers in my ears!’

Well, we have a lot of catch­ing up to do! I thought.

A year-and-a-half later, my Clyde pro­posed, and of course, I said yes!

This July, five decades af­ter Clyde had first planned on ask­ing me to marry him, Ray walked me down the aisle, with our friends, fam­ily and all our kids watch­ing on.

‘Do you give your mum Chris­tine to your father Clyde for her hand in mar­riage?’ the cel­e­brant asked Ray, who be­gan sob­bing.

Like­wise, his dad was teary too.

Clyde can’t even talk about our love story with­out cry­ing!

‘It’s hard to be­lieve we met again af­ter all this time,’ I told Clyde re­cently.

‘You were my first love and now you’ll be my last love,’ he smiled back.

And that’s enough for me.

We just love spend­ing time to­gether Our son Ray gave me away‘I’m tak­ing you to my dad,’he said

Me and Clyde in 1968 with my niece Our wed­ding day, more than 50 years af­ter we met

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