Couple celebrates diamond anniversary

Ronlad and Sonia Brookes on their wedding day in 1959.

They lived just a few roads apart in Athlone when they first met as teens, and Ronald and Sonia Brookes went on to spend a lifetime together.

The couple, who celebrate their 60th anniversary this year, say compromise, patience and understanding have kept them together all these years.

Ronald was 16 and Sonia 13 when they started dating, and they were married five years later in 1959.

They lived with Ronald’s parents before moving into their own home in Vanguard Estate nine years later.

They have four children, Reggie, Bridget, Steve, and Franklin; 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with friends and family on Thursday August 15.

Sonia was just 13 when she started working – her father had died and she needed to help her mom with the household expenses.

Her first job was as a waitress at the Rondebosch Cecil Tea Lounge. She was there for two years before taking a job as an -all-rounder at the Bertish Clothing factory in Salt River.

Later she sold wigs for a company before starting her own wig business, importing the wigs from Japan.

“It was tough because I had to collect my money so I needed to know when exactly each one got paid so that I could fetch my money, That time people paid about R1 for a wig.”

Ronald, 81, ran his own printing company, drawing many of his employees from disadvantaged backgrounds, and he says it gave him a sense of achievement to know he was helping people who really needed a break.

Sonia says they always compromised and listened to each other’s opinions. And if they went out somewhere, they always went together.

“We stayed with my in-laws, so we always had people to guide us and motivate us as a young couple. His mother was really a pot of gold; she was a good woman, and she had so much patience.

“Although we lived during the apartheid era, we had a good life.

“Our kids went to school, and they were safe even through the riots.

“We could walk to each other, and he would walk me home in the evenings through Kewtown, and it was safe to do that.”

The couple enjoyed going to the movies together and in later years they travelled to Europe, Australia and America, where they visited San Francisco and the Grand Canyon.

“When we look at our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren we are very proud of them. They have lots of respect for us, and they say I am too strict. The one often asks her dad how he managed with such a strict mother.”

She feels couples these days tend to compromise less.

“When arguments arise women quickly say, ‘I don’t need you’, and they walk out. But couples should learn to calm down and take it easy.

“Love one another and understand each other. Give each other a chance to talk, and don’t be hasty. The youngsters today are very strong-headed and difficult to speak to. Think it over first – divorce is not easy especially for the children.”