Mar­riage sur­vives pain of de­men­tia

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By SAM DUFF

A Plim­mer­ton cou­ple have cel­e­brated their di­a­mond wed­ding an­niver­sary, de­spite one of them be­ing di­ag­nosed with se­nile de­men­tia 18 years ago.

Austin and Mar­garet McClean gath­ered with friends and fam­ily last week to re­call tales of their 60 years of mar­riage.

‘‘I don’t know where the time has gone. It’s in­cred­i­ble,’’ Mr McClean said.

Mrs McClean vis­ited a doc­tor when she was 70 and was told she had the early signs of de­men­tia.

‘‘She spends a lot of her time sleep­ing th­ese days,’’ Mr McClean said.

He said the hard­est part was that Mrs McClean could not an­swer him.

‘‘If I can get a smile off her it makes my day.’’

Mr McClean said help from their 11 chil­dren meant he could care for his wife at home.

He said Mar­garet was not in any pain, which made her ill­ness eas­ier to deal with.

The se­cret to their long mar­riage was not be­ing home all the time and not ar­gu­ing, Mr McClean said.

‘‘My brother told me, ‘ What­ever you do, don’t ar­gue. She would al­ways win any­way.’’’

He said the two met when he was singing in a show and she asked him to dance. ‘‘She was my dream girl.’’ Mr McClean, a re­tired fitter and turner who was born in New­cas­tle, Eng­land, trav­elled to New Zealand to work in the 1950s.

‘‘I never saw my par­ents again be­cause I met Mar­garet and never left.

‘‘ I would go through it all again. I have had one of the best lives you could imag­ine.’’

The cou­ple mar­ried at Sa­cred Heart Cathe­dral in Wellington on Jan­uary 30, 1954.

In 1971 they moved from New­lands to Plim­mer­ton, where they bought their fam­ily home.

‘‘I like the sea. I used to go to the sea once a year when I was kid,’’ Mr McClean said

He said 2005 was a dif­fi­cult time in their mar­riage be­cause their son, Michael, 41, died of a heart at­tack.

‘‘I did the griev­ing for her, be­cause she didn’t know he had died.’’

Mr McClean said get­ting mar­ried th­ese days was very dif­fer­ent to the 1950s.

‘‘ We had two lit­tle chairs given to us as a wed­ding present and that was all.

‘‘ I didn’t have a car un­til about 10 years af­ter that.’’

He said en­gaged cou­ples should have to do a mar­riage course be­fore get­ting mar­ried.

‘‘There is all this lovey-dovey stuff, but let’s be hon­est, it doesn’t last.

‘‘The num­ber of breakups is phe­nom­e­nal and the chil­dren are the ones who suf­fer.’’

The cou­ple had 41 grand­chil­dren and 8 great­grand­chil­dren.

Mr McClean said he was the long­est- serv­ing mem­ber of Alzheimers New Zealand’s Porirua branch.

Now: The McCleans cel­e­brate 60 years of mar­riage.

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