In the fishing village of Anse La Raye, there is a largely untold story of enduring love involving an initially reluctant teenage bride, her dissenting mother, and a tenacious suitor.
Mercedeste Joseph was the nineteen-year-old whose hand George Tarrington Paul, better known as ‘Ton Ton,’ requested in marriage.
He did so the old-fashioned way, by writing to her mother.
The mother said no. Her daughter was too young, and George was about thirty years old.
In addition, George’s love was unrequited. It was love at first sight for him, but the object of his affection was not interested.
“When he saw me, he told me he loved me and would write my mother for me. I said, ‘Me? I am a young girl. I just left school. My mother wouldn’t accept you,” the then reluctant Mercedeste recalled.
However, George was persistent. He explained that the match had been made in heaven, and God, in a dream, had instructed him to marry her.
Mercedeste recalled that she did not hold out for long.
She told St. Lucia Times that George worked hard in her uncle’s garden and assisted the family.
Gradually, she became drawn to him and promised to marry no one else but him.
Mercedeste’s mother, opposed initially, also came around, and the wedding took place on April 8, 1953.
Mercedeste was then twenty years old.
As with all marriages, there were issues to overcome, a major one of which involved religion.
Mercedeste said one year after their marriage, George joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church while she was a Catholic.
“I didn’t like that,” she candidly admitted.
Nevertheless, she revealed that as their children grew, the youngsters wanted to become Adventists, too, and everyone joined that religion.
That solved the problem of religious division in the family.
Her husband, George, who had two children from a previous relationship before marriage, will become a centenarian on Thursday.
George, blind in his eighties, has been a farmer and at one time captained the Anse La Raye cricket team.
For about seventy years, he has also been a vegetarian.
His wife, Mercedeste, had some advice for young people getting married today.
“When you see is God that marry you, nobody can break that,” she declared, adding that trusting the Creator is the key to a long and happy marriage.
(Story updated to correct spelling of wife’s name)