It all began when their lovely daughter organised the session for her dear parents. But it came with a warning, ‘Mum won’t smile in front of the camera’. I was prepared to photograph them just as they were – smiling or not. What I wasn’t expecting was to laugh so hard alongside them. And capture Wiera’s (pronounced Vera) smile I did. And John’s chuckle was so contagious!
Their story is incredibly interesting – Wiera was born in Poland and was 7 when the war broke out. At 12 she went to Germany and worked in a factory there (child slave labour). When they were liberated by the Americans she, her mother, her sister and her brother stayed for 5 years in a displaced persons camp. Her father had been interned in a POW camp due to being Russian, but joined them in the camp later. John is so proud of the fact that Wiera can speak five languages – Russian, Polish, German, English & Italian.
In 1949 she came to Australia when she was 17 with the Red Cross (and her family). It was when she began nursing that she met John.
John was in the Royal Australian Navy, where he was away for 6 months then home for 2 weeks, then gone again for 6 months – it was this way for the first 6 years of their marriage. He then joined the Merchant Navy (he was chief engineer) where his time away was less and he could spend more time with Wiera and his children.
John had this cute little habit of slipping his hand under her sleeve – and I noticed Wiera would occasionally do the same to him!
One thing I love about the elderly is how they talk about their dating days as ‘courtship’.
Watch the video and be prepared to fall in love with love that stands the test of time. The second song on the video is ‘Red Sails on the Sunset’…a special song that reminds them of watching the sunset in Sydney together.