When Colin and Lyn Dodunski married in 1946, they lived in an old house with an old coal range.
“At the time I would have lived in a dog kennel, I wouldn’t have cared just to be with him,” said Mrs Dodunski as she reminisced about their first years together.
The couple, who live near Inglewood in Taranaki, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on October 1, which was Mr Dodunski’s 92nd birthday. “Nearly every day I think of how blessed we are and I thank the Lord in my prayers,” his wife said.
When asked what the secret of their successful marriage was, Mrs Dodunski replied, “Most people ask that. I think the answer is a lot of give and take.”
“There’s a lot of downers in a marriage, but it’s how you handle them. At times you’ve got to bend over backwards but it comes out alright on the other side. I don’t think there is a marriage that is a hundred per cent all the time. We’ve been very lucky, but it’s just give and take,” she said.
Mr Dodunski met the Mrs Dodunski when she was 15 and he, 19.
She was watching a basketball game that ended earlier than a nearby football game. So her group moved on to watch the football match. Her future husband was playing football and scored a “field goal”.
They met after the game. She complimented him on the “field goal”. He asked if he could date her.
“He was my first and only boyfriend,” she said. “I’ve never gone out with anyone else but Colin.”
He would bike eight miles “only on a Sunday in those days” to see her.
When he asked her if he could take her to the pictures, she said he had to ask her parents’ permission.
“They said, ‘yes, you can go’. But Mum and Dad came along, too,” she said laughing. “When you think of it today, it’s just mind boggling. It really is.”
Mr Dodunski had just taken over his father’s farm, when he asked her to get married.
“It wasn’t easy for my poor Mum because I turned for Colin. We were Presbyterian but I became Catholic for him,” said Mrs Dodunski.
Mrs Dodunski said they were grateful for the little things they got in life. With each baby, Mr Dodunski would surprise her with gifts when she came back from the nursing home.
For the first baby, Mr Dodunski bought her an electric range. For the second, she was surprised with a washing machine. For the third baby, he put linoleum on the kitchen floor so she wouldn’t need to scrub it anymore.
“When baby number four came along, I got a gold watch. That was simply heavenly,” she said excitedly.
When they bought their first tractor, she said it was like 22 Christmases put together. “Today, these wouldn’t be surprises. But we were so grateful for any little thing.”
She said there were times when they suffered, especially when they lost their son. “After we lost our lad, I didn’t think I’d get over it. But I never felt alone even though it shook my faith,” she said.
Today, they still manage to live on their own. Their children drop in or call to ask if they needed anything.
Every week, someone comes to bring them the Holy Eucharist. “What more can you ask for?,” she asked.
“I don’t know how much longer we’re going to go on for and it doesn’t really matter because I’ve had the best life ever.”