50 years to marry my long-lost love
Christine spent a lifetime yearning for her first love
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?
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