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A true love story

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

A true love story

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It may be hard to imagine being married to someone for 60 years, but when you meet Paul and Vera Greenidge it’s easy to understand how love flourished and partnership and commitment bloomed in their lives.
Theirs is a story marked in old-world traditions; boy meets girl, boy falls for girl; boy writes a letter to girl’s mother to see if he could court her and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I took her name to my parents and my father went to this elder in the church and asked about her. He was told that if there were two good girls in Martindales Road she was one,” Paul proudly recalled. “Children need to get their parents and grandparents in their marriage before they go that way because they have an old head and know things you might not know.”
The twosome married on January 18,1951, had four children, lived in the same home that they built with the strength of their hands, financial prowess or (“cutting and contriving” as Vera would say) and today they have a home, complete with a white picket fence, the metaphorical symbol of happiness, and a quaint family life.
On the walls of their home are the photos telling of the decades of togetherness with pictures of children at every stage and now photos of grandchildren taking prominence on walls. Judging from the scenery, their journey marks a wonderful life.
If you think that at their age they don’t have a sex life, think again.
“He still takes his linseed,” his wife revealed.
As for their secret to marital success, both Vera and Paul credit their belief and faith in God.“
Of course, you have to love God and you have to love your partner because love suffereth long,” Vera said.
After strongly quoting 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says, “Those attributes help one to be committed.”  “Being committed one will always have the desire to keep your partner.”
Vera and Paul have lived true to their vows, to have and to hold, for better for worse, in sickness and in health. Though each of them is sharp and can remember the smallest detail of their lives together, they have only weathered the effects of ageing which has been etched in their faces and bodies.
“It’s important that you do things together,” Paul says laughing. “In our church we dress alike.” 
“If I put on a blue dress, Daddy puts on a blue shirt as well,” Vera says. “Now we have a lot young couples in our church following us. And you try to make sure you don’t try to change your partner.”
There hasn’t been anything that these two have tried to change about each other. Self-acceptance has been the key to their union.“It has been a comfortable marriage,” Vera said. “You know tongue and teeth will have words but we never go to sleep with our wrath. When you go to sleep with your wrath that will grow and grow until eventually some separation will come. In all of our years I never went to sleep at my mother because I was upset with him.”
To hear Vera and Paul quoting scriptures, one realizes it’s more than memorized verses. They have seen and lived the meaning of the principles in their everyday lives.
“We have been doing this all through they years, so much so I can’t believe it’s 60 years already,” Paul said.
Their union has become a pinnacle for many couples in their Seventh Day Adventist church to aspire to.
“You don’t love a person for what they can give . . . you should love them whether they can give or whether they can’t,” Vera said. “You have to be a contented person in your situation. If you know you would get up on morning and have bread but don’t have butter, eat it with contentment because if you put your trust in the Lord there is nothing he would withhold from you.”
Vera told the story of their wedding day: when the ceremony was going on, the roof on their house was being put on  and there were just two mattresses on the floor.
“That is to show you contentment. From there we built up as we went along. But I thank God. Paul is 86, I am 82 and he’s still very good in his mind. We don’t have sugar or health problems to speak of so that is God’s blessings.”
Speaking of blessings, Paul and Vera talk proudly of their children, three girls and one son, whom they deemed as their heritage from God. Though their son died two years ago, the pair still continue to give God thanks. 
The couple spoke of their commitment to their children, making sure they were well provided for down through the years.
“I was into photography” Paul said. “But after I got married I said my money now has to go towards my family and I gave it up. That concept I had at 24; I was committed to my family. It wouldn’t be Paul Greenidge money no more; it would be the family’s money.”
Those precepts Paul says were modelled before him by his own parents and he was determined to replicate that in his own life.
“My parents had eight kids and they were determined to have all of us become someone in our lives,’ he said. “We had family worship, which was the basis for keeping homes together. My wife and I kept those concepts. 
“The father is the priest of the home, and he should be directing everything. He should be the disciplinarian; the wife can do her part but he should be in control. That is why the homes are lacking today because of the absence of men in homes.”
It seems the Greenidges have done something right, because their daughters are now carrying on the same traditions in their own lives.
Though Paul abandoned his photogrpahy long ago, he admits that his grandchildren now indulge him with cameras so that he can continue adding to his photography collection.