WATERLOO – They were both married years ago to other people.
He was an engineer in northern Ontario. She was a social worker in the same neighborhood.
Members of the so-called silent generation – sandwiched between the greatest war-torn generation and rebellious baby boomers – they were born during the Great Depression, children during World War II and teenagers in the era of the Big Band.
Forged by hard times, they kept their heads down, worked hard, took nothing for granted and lived their lives with frugality and respect.
For Adèle Verreault, that meant raising five children – post-divorce – as a working single mother, attending night school, running a fabric store and landing a job as a finance manager at an aid company. ‘childhood.
For Don McLellan, raising four children with a wife who later died meant a job in the mining industry and the sweet recreational pastimes of woodworking and gardening.
Eventually, as the children grew older and left home, they found themselves alone.
“My health is weakening,” says Adele, 88. “If something happened to me, they might not find me until the next day.”
Determined to avoid this outcome, she moved to the Westhill retirement home in Waterloo, where Don had lived for several years, and settled into a comfortable routine of card games, bingo and commuting to the mall.
And then, at a stage in life where most people just ease off and let go, something unexpected happened: they fell in love.
“When Adele moved here, she stood out,” Don, 87, says of their first meeting three years ago.
“I spotted her across the room and introduced myself. She is a very pretty lady. He’s laughing. “These older women will get you every time!”
Sitting together at meals, they became friends and, over time, something more.
“I was very reluctant,” says Adele, a quiet, wise woman whose eyes sparkle with warmth.
“He approached me. I was knitting. We got along very well. »
It turns out that they were both born in Quebec and grew up in close-knit Catholic families with similar temperaments and value systems.
“We could talk about anything,” Adele says. “Little by little, I became more interested.
“I exhausted her,” Don laughs.
Shortly before Christmas, during a respite from COVID house arrest, Don asked Adele to marry him.
“I was a little surprised,” says Adele, who – because she’s not a frivolous person – took her time to think it over.
“He is very kind to others. He has a good sense of humor. He’s basically a good guy and I loved his family.
And here they are, a few days before getting married on Saturday at the Delta Hotel in Waterloo. She wears a shimmering blue top and an elegant pearl necklace, he wears a dapper suit jacket and a fedora: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, ready to walk through the twilight of their lives, hand in hand.
“We’re taking a chance,” says Adele.
“Something could happen tomorrow. Eventually one of us will get sick. We may only be a few years old.
“I think I’ll stay for a few years,” Don jokes. “I don’t know how I got that old in the first place.”
It’s love in the fall years, when time is precious and priorities clear, unlike the first marriages they had decades ago, wide-eyed and innocent, their whole lives ahead of them.
“It has a completely different feel,” Don says: Their wedding will be small and intimate, broadcast live for friends and family who can’t attend.
“The shoe is on the other foot. When you’re 24, 25, you’re full. Over the years you learn not to sweat the small stuff. Slow down and smell the roses.
“I was young and just getting started,” Adele says of her first trip to the altar. “You see the future ahead of you. You think you will live forever.
She stops quietly: “We know now that we are finished.”
They are not loud and flamboyant people.
Adele recently had a mini-stroke. Don walks with a cane. Both survived the statistical standards for their generational cohort.
But they’re still there, finishing each other’s sentences, enjoying each other’s company, ready for their next adventure.
“They had been dating for a while and she was very happy,” notes Adele’s youngest daughter, Mona St-Hilaire.
“When she announced the wedding, it wasn’t that unexpected, but it’s still a surprise. Me and all my sisters are very happy for them. We think it’s very cute and romantic. We love that ‘they live life to the fullest and don’t let age get in the way.
“They are one of our most beloved couples,” confirms Westhill supervisor Tania Stagat, delighted, like many employees, with their union.
“They are very nice.”
For their part, Don and Adele are content to enjoy their moment: calm, dignified, eager to share their happiness with others.
“We have all the time in the world,” jokes Adele.
“So go!” Don reprimands.
As he snuggled up for a kiss, she smiled.
Don and Adele will wed in a private civil ceremony on Saturday at the Delta Hotel in Waterloo. Don’s eldest son will be a witness. One of Adèle’s daughters will read a biblical verse, another will serve as a witness. A honeymoon will follow at a family reunion in Smith’s Falls.