I have to admit the first thing that struck me when I met Shirley as she welcomed me into her home, was her beautiful smile, it could really just light up the world.
Shirley and her husband Ken call Sunshine Coast home, and I was so blessed to photograph them and get to know them a little more. I asked them how long they’d been married and they answered very casually 63 years. Shirley follows through saying “Gosh that’s a long time to be with someone” and they both start laughing. It sure is!! I agree, you are going to have to share some of your secrets to a happy long marriage. Ken smiles and says, “I cant really give anyone advice as everyone is different and so is everyone’s relationships. Having things to look forward to is a good thing for your marriage. We have had a fortunate life. We have travelled around the world. A highlight being that, every 10 years there is a play over in Germany called passion play. All the people in this little town participate. We loved it and went a few times over the years. Shirley also ads that when you have bad times you have to be strong, and you have to talk to yourself. I often tell people to talk to yourself and you’ll get through it. And the most important thing, agree to disagree. Ca Sara Sara, whatever will be will be.
Shirley was born is 1935 and had 2 brothers, I asked her what some of her earliest memories were, and I commented on how fantastic she looks. I told her I needed to know her beauty secrets!!! Shirley blushes and thanks me, “I remember when my mum signed me up to dancing when I was 4. I did it right through until about 14 years old. It got too expensive so when I started work I used to save the money and keep going but it got too much to afford. My mum lived to 97. I try to mix with a lot of people and I love sport. I love musical comedy and shows. I’ve played sport all my life. I loved tennis. But then I had knee replacements so I couldn’t run anymore but now I play golf once a week. I worked part-time at David Jones at Brookvale, Sydney. I had history in retail as a corsetiere, and worked as a fitting consultant. So I have always loved fashion. You need to have a good attitude in life. And you have to be strong, especially as a woman.”
Ken was born in 1934 and is the oldest of 5 siblings. His best memory as a kid is they loved Christmas holidays. “We lived with our grandmother in Sydney. But Christmas time we would take a tent and go camping for 6 weeks with our mum. My dad was away at war, as he set up the shore wireless station to train the women’s Australian navy, which was Morse code. He left and went to a destroyer in the Indian Ocean and we didn’t see him for a long while. Then he went to New Guinea. He was in the navy for 25 years; When he finally came home he had lined up a job with the radio. But it didn’t work out which disappointed him a lot. Unfortunately he had a heart attack at 58. They didn’t have bypasses and surgery available to save him back then like they do now.”
It struck me how they both still spoke so dearly of their parents and grandparents. It really never leaves you, the love you have for them. No matter what your age. Its made me think of my own parents and how much I love them, I felt an instant feeling of gratitude that I have them in my life, helping me with my kids, helping me through life.
I asked Shirley and Ken how they met… “We met at central railway station and Ken was playing football and I was a friend with his Cousin, So we went to a pre football game and we got talking on the plane and the rest is history. We had 5 daughters. Now we have 18 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren. They are all spread out. Facebook is a good thing but it’s the only way I can keep in contact with all of my family.
I told them they should be so proud of their large family. Shirley thanked me and said there are things that go on with your families, but I never interfere. I just say be strong, and always think of yourself as well. You have to look after yourself before anyone else because if you don’t, then you can’t help anyone else. You learn from disappointments. You learn over time that family is so important.
You have to look after yourself before anyone else because if you don’t, then you can’t help anyone else. You learn from disappointments. You learn over time that family is so important.