Man waits 51 years for his partner to marry him

Yazeed Kamaldien
After 51 years of waiting, William Oakers finally got his wish: his companion Merna agreed to marry him at the weekend.
Oakers, 79, and the new Mrs Oakers, 72, are both originally from Port Elizabeth but have lived side by side in Heideveld since 1981. He said yesterday that he met his wife in 1961 and “a few months later moved in together.” They had no children together but remained inseparable.

Newly weds William Oakers and Merna Oakers (nee Koeberg) from Heideveld tied the knot on Sunday. Picture: Fazlin Clifford

Newly weds William Oakers and Merna Oakers (nee Koeberg) from Heideveld tied the knot on Sunday. Picture: Fazlin Clifford

“We got ourselves a room and stayed together. We would have gotten married a long time ago but she didn’t want to,” he said.
“I asked her parents if we could get married in 1963. They said yes and I bought a ring. But then she said she didn’t want to get married. That was my wife’s problem.”
Oakers stuck it out though. He didn’t give up on the love of his life.
“I always asked her to marry me. She always said no. One day I got so fed up that I sold the ring. Then I started all over again,” he said.
“I asked her again this month, ‘Why don’t we get married. We have stayed together so long’. Then she said, ‘Alright.’ We got married right inside my house.”
Merna Oakers (nee Koeberg) said she was too ‘deurmekaar’ or all over the place to get married.
“I don’t know why I took so long. I wasn’t ready for marriage. But in my old age I’m ready for marriage,” she said.
When asked why she kept him waiting for so long she replied: “I stayed with him because I love him. I don’t want to give him to another woman.”
She said that her husband “came to me very nicely to ask to marry him.”
“He was heart sore each time I said no. When he asked me this month I made up my mind. I thought I was getting old and I can’t live like this anymore.
“It’s a sin to live with a man that you are not married to. I didn’t want to die like this. I wanted to die in a marriage.”
The Oakers had a simple wedding in their little flat.
“It was very beautiful. We enjoyed it. I didn’t have a wedding dress. I got married in a lime green skirt and jacket. I already had a ring that I got from a friend that I worked for years ago. I was a domestic worker,” said Mrs Oakers.
“It feels very good to be married. This is a quiet man. It is good to live with him. My longing now is just to stay at home. Like it was always. I just wish that we could stay happy and content.”
Mr Oakers, who worked previously with an electrician, said their 15 close relatives and friends at their wedding.
He added: “I am so happy. I just wanted to get married and that’s all. I waited 51 years to get married.”
“I begged her to marry me. She said no but she could not stay without me. She came back again and again. I could not get rid of her and I didn’t want to take another girl. I had other opportunities but this was my girl,” he said.
“She’s wonderful. She can do everything. This was the kind of woman I wanted. It was the kind of women I was looking for.”


About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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  1. Man waits 51 years for his partner to marry him! - April 16, 2013

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