By Keith Lacey
When asked to describe the keys to a successful marriage, Josephine Reynders doesn’t hesitate for a second.
“Once in a while you have to stomp your feet or pound your fist on the table,” said Reynders, who recently celebrated an incredible 70 years of marriage (Saturday, Sept. 23) to the love of her life.
Martin and Josephine Reynders were celebrating the end of the Second World War in a small village in their native Holland when Martin asked Josephine to dance in the village square.
They’ve barely spent a moment apart ever since.
To help celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, the staff at Mariposa Gardens Retirement Residence in Osoyoos organized a special Friday afternoon celebration with numerous guests offering congratulations to the loving couple.
Not only was Josephine celebrating 70 years of marriage, but that Saturday also marked her 94th birthday.
“We got married on my birthday … not many people can say that,” she said with a hearty laugh.
Martin turned 95 several months ago.
Josephine said she and her husband were looking forward to the anniversary party – and many more years together.
“As you get older, you slow down a little bit and we don’t move as fast as we used to, but we’re still alive and enjoying life,” she said.
To stay busy, Martin and Josephine try and get out of their assisted living unit at Mariposa as often as possible.
“We eat all of our meals downstairs and we try and get out to bingo and the music concerts they have here all the time,” she said. “The priest also visits once a week and we try and get out to meet him as often as we can.
“We just don’t want to sit around and we try and keep as busy as we can.”
Despite not having any children, Martin and Josephine know they are blessed to have led such a long and rewarding life together for seven decades.
“We’ve been blessed,” said Josephine.
Since he was a young child, Martin dreamed of owning a large chunk of land and started looking at coming to Canada at a very young age knowing his dream would not become reality in Holland.
After getting married in 1947 and struggling to get by as farm labourers in Holland, they made the decision they wanted to immigrate to Canada.
There were very few jobs in Holland and the Canadian government was accepting European immigrants without any hassles, said Martin.
“They wanted farmers from Europe, so we applied and were accepted,” he said. “That was our dream.”
Even though they spoke very little English and with only a few dollars in their pockets, they arrived in Canada in late May of 1949.
They arrived in Quebec City and then immediately boarded a train for Prince Albert, Sask., where they had been hired by a farmer to work on his small family farm.
“Back then, when it came to work for new immigrants, it was take it or leave it, so we took it,” said Martin.
They ended up working on different farms across Saskatchewan for more than a dozen years before saving enough money to purchase their own farm in Leoville, Sask.
They lived and worked on that farm for just over 30 years growing and selling wheat, oats and barley and raising livestock.
They moved to Osoyoos to retire in 2006 and chose this community as they, like so many others, have visited on vacation and fell in love with the warm weather and beautiful landscape.
Josephine said the love she has for her husband has never dissipated in 70 years.
“I’m still in love with him very much after all these years,” she said. “He’s always been so good to me and I still find him so handsome.”
Josephine and Martin agree they’ve been blessed to live such a long and loving life together and they hope there are many more years to come.
“You never know at our age, but we both feel pretty good,” she said. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”