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Of love, togetherness and devotion

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Of love, togetherness and devotion

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Watching Daphne and James Holligan you feel a certain sense of reverence and awe. After all, in today’s world they are considered an anomaly in many ways.
They lived out most of the tenets of their wedding vow, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer in sickness and in health” in their 56 years of marriage. And they are simply willing and eager to live out the rest of their days together.
Their story is what many would consider atypical. Boy met girl, boy always seemed to have to thing for girl, girl gave boy a chance and they were able to write their own love story. After 50 years of togetherness and memories, both Daphne and James can recite every moment of their first meeting from memory.
“A friend of mine carried me up at her brother’s house and he was there,” Daphne said recalling their first meeting. “James told me he liked me, but I told him he had to come to my grandmother because she raised me.”
James’ version of their first meeting mirrors that of his wife’s with one little difference. He knew that he would have seen her there that day.
“I had on a green suit. She was always by her friend’s house. She spent more time there than at her grandmother,” he said. “I knew I was going to see her there.”
While fate and feelings worked in tandem to unite this twosome, theirs is a story rooted in Old World traditions, hard work and a sense of commitment that meant that you stayed married no matter what.
“When my grandmother met him, she accepted him,” Daphne said.
She talked fondly of the days he would come to see her at her grandmother’s house, sometimes missing the last bus at 8 p.m. just to spend time with her.
“We courted for five years before we got married,” she says.
After they got married, then the hard work of building a relationship came in. James worked at Windsor Plantation and tried his best to provide for his family.
While he would like to say that he was a model husband on all fronts he admitted that he wasn’t.
“I spent the better part of my marriage out in the wilderness,” he says candidly. “That was before I gave my life to God.  
His wife quickly interjected to explain: “He was young and he like nuff girls but I hold on,” she said. “He never left me out or my children. He was always there for me and I knew he loved me.”
For many modern women, one instance of infidelity would be enough to bring the end of their union, but Daphne persevered.
“I would quarrel with him when I found out, but I still wasn’t giving up,” she said. “He would admit he was wrong . . . . He used to drink his rum. But we made it and raised five children. You know, love is as cruel as death.”
Ironically, it was their children, including John Holligan, who led their parents to Christ. John revealed that he spoke at the crusade where his father accepted Christ as his Saviour.
“It started with our children and the youngest ones first,” said Daphne. She was the first to join the Adventist faith before her husband followed suit.
“I was 65-years-old when I was baptized,” he said.
After committing their lives to Christ, and raising their children, both Daphne and James have lots to be proud of. Their five children are married and have been so for more than 20 years.
“I feel so good to see my children. We built this house for them,” she said of their St. George home. “I thought that when you build this big house all the children will stay but they’ve all gone and they have their own lives now.”
Now that James and Daphne are enjoying their twilight years together, they look back on the ups, down, difficulties and rough patches as all part of the process.
James said: “Out of 56 years I didn’t run away once and I’m staying until the good Lord carries me home.”