For over 40 years, Wang Aijuan had been a constant companion to Wu Yongcheng, without a ring nor marriage certificate to signify her status.
On July 7, however, the pair of septuagenarians finally made their relationship official by saying ‘I do’.
The decision was in part spurred by Wu’s ailing health. Not wanting to leave any regrets, the 76-year-old man hoped to register their marriage to cement and celebrate their decades-long relationship, Shin Min Daily News reported.
Theirs was an employer-employee relationship which blossomed into something more, the couple told the Chinese evening daily.
Wang, 70, shared that when she first started to work for Wu, he was the owner of a fishball and fishcake supplier business.
Both of them had been through failed marriages, which was probably why the thought of remarrying did not occur to them even after they got together.
Shared Wang: “We were busy and the days just passed us by, we didn’t even think of getting married. After all, when we decided to be together it meant that we will always support each other.”
This meant struggling together when they uprooted themselves to Cambodia, where they were based for more than 20 years.
Of their bold decision to start over in a foreign country, Wang shared that Wu’s business in Singapore had run into difficulties due to a shortage of manpower. They’d heard about opportunities in Cambodia through a friend and decided to try their luck there.
“My sister was opposed to the idea, but I went ahead anyway. I even pawned my jewellery worth about $20,000,” shared Wang, who added that when they got to Cambodia, the couple opened the first Chinese eatery in the area selling fried noodles and other dishes.
She shared that business was erratic and they had to move their eatery often due to rising rental costs. They eventually closed their restaurant when rental fees became untenable.
Even then, Wang continued to work in Cambodia for four more years, bringing in “less than $150” a month.
But the pair soon found age catching up with them.
Due to health issues, Wu and Wang moved back to Singapore about five or six years ago, Shin Min reported.
Wu and Wang cutting the cake at their wedding solemnisation ceremony. PHOTO: Facebook/Ambulance Wish Singapore
Wang shared that she experiences pain in the joints of her feet, while Wu has a problem with his spine and is unable to walk long distances.
In May this year, Wu was admitted to the hospital after complaining of breathing difficulties. He was subsequently diagnosed with lung cancer. Wang is currently awaiting radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
Wu still had one unfulfilled desire though, which was to marry Wang. His wish was eventually conveyed to the local charity organisation Ambulance Wish Singapore via a social worker.
Wu told Shin Min: “Even though life has been hum-drum, but we take care of each other when we’re sick and comfort each other when we’re down. Marriage is a way to commemorate our 40 years of companionship.”
Wu has four grown-up sons and a daughter from his previous marriage, while Wang does not have any children. However, she shared that she has long treated Wu’s kids as her own.
The couple with Wu’s children and grandchildren, along with volunteer and solemniser Huang Shuomei. PHOTO: Facebook/Ambulance Wish Singapore
While in Cambodia, the couple also adopted a local eight-month-old girl, after her mother, their neighbour, died. The pair even assumed the role of grandparents when their adopted daughter, who’s now in her 20s, had kids.
Even after they returned to Singapore, Wang scrimped and saved in order to send over $1,500 a month for their adopted grandkids’ education.
But with no income after quitting her job as a cleaner a year ago to care for Wu, they could no longer keep up with the monthly remittance.
A Celebration — 40 Years in the Making
With the blessing of Wu’s children and the help of volunteers from Ambulance Wish Singapore as well as sponsors who provided floral and makeup services as well as wedding favours, the couple held a simple ceremony after 40 years outside their HDB flat.
Said volunteer and wedding solemniser Huang Shuomei: “After knowing that Wu had late-stage lung cancer, we acted quickly to help fulfil his wish. Staff at the Registry of Marriages also helped to expedite their request to hold their wedding solemnisation.”
For the ceremony, Wang held a bouquet of fresh pink flowers as volunteers prepared Wu’s favourite foods such as chocolate cake and Hokkien mee, along with wedding rings engraved with their names.
In photos posted to the charity’s Facebook page, the happy couple appeared to be all smiles as they posed for the cameras while holding up their marriage certificate, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.