Having eloped 60 years ago, old firesticks burn bright
“Love lives in the hearts of those who are brave.” Eighty-year-old Deyon Madge Thompson has lived most of her life by those profound words. At the age of 20, Deyon eloped with her then 23-year-old partner, Willard Thompson Sr, despite the...
“Love lives in the hearts of those who are brave.”
Eighty-year-old Deyon Madge Thompson has lived most of her life by those profound words.
At the age of 20, Deyon eloped with her then 23-year-old partner, Willard Thompson Sr, despite the disapproval of both their parents.
Deyon, who met her now-husband when she was 15, said when she saw the then 18-year-old, it was love at first sight.
And that love has burned bright for decades, with the couple celebrating their diamond anniversary last Thursday at their home in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth.
Referencing their August 25, 1962, wedding, Deyon said her parents were surprised, but there was a sense of inevitability among her friends “that Tony and Madge were inseparable”.
“We were gonna get married anyway, regardless, because we just thought that we were meant to be.
“My mother was upset, his father was upset, but we bore the upset because we thought we did the right thing,” Deyon said in a Gleaner interview.
Willard shared that he first laid eyes on a photo of Deyon through his cousin, who was dating Deyon’s sister. He said it was a decisive moment as he knew since then that she was the woman he wanted to marry.
“I asked, ‘What you doing with this young lady’s picture?’ And he said, ‘It’s my girlfriend’s sister.’ And I said, ‘A my girlfriend, you know.’”
Willard, 82, considers himself the “lucky man”, having won the heart of the former Santa Cruz beauty queen.
“More than one guy, younger and older, were in love with her,” he said.
Beaming with a wide grin, Deyon said when she met Willard at a fair, she was captivated by his eyes. Those words appeared to have evoked excitement for Willard, who started batting his eyelids, much to the amusement of his family.
Deyon recounted memorable moments over the years, from him pedalling his way through Santa Cruz on his bicycle with her, to hotel trips, picnics, and romantic getaways.
She shared, however, that life was not always a bed of roses. They recall having weathered many storms, from overcoming financial woes to her husband’s cancer diagnosis in 2008.
When Willard became very ill in 2016, she said it was a test of her faith – and her love for him.
That has included nursing him through a ruptured ulcer and two heart attacks.
“Many people would have said, ‘Oh, Lord! I can’t be bothered. He’s sick,’ but I couldn’t say that. I stayed with him. I have taken care of him since that day he went into the Broward County Hospital in Florida,” she said of Willard, who uses a wheelchair.
“... Everyday is a challenge, but every day is a blessing,” said Deyon.
Emphasising the importance of spending time together in a relationship, Deyon said she and her husband have celebrated all 60 anniversaries with a special event.
Referencing her husband’s illness, Deyon said their 60th wedding anniversary was the most special one.
“God has been so good that we live to see another year. This morning (last Thursday), I had tears in my eyes when I held his hand, and I said, ‘ We made It again. We made another year together,’ because many times I thought we lost him. “
Emphasising the importance of spending time together in a relationship, Deyon said she and her husband have celebrated all 60 anniversaries. with a special event.
Deyon, whose maiden name is also Thompson, shared that a point in their relationship, her mother disclosed that she was related to Willard.
“My mother told me that her mother was related to his grandmother, but I didn’t think we were that close, and in any case, we were in love, and we were going to get married,” she said with a laugh.
The couple are parents to three children - Nichole, a college lecturer; Carla, a quality associate; and Willard Jr, an IT consultant. They also have six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Nichole said her parents’ marriage has influenced her in her own relationships, citing loyalty as a key factor.
The college lecturer revels in the stories of the former years of her parents’ relationship.
“She told me that when she came to Santa Cruz, all the girls had to step aside because she was now the prettiest girl in Santa Cruz,” Nichole joked.
The 60th anniversary celebration has been sentimental for Nichole, who recalled her mother’s hope of achieving the milestone.
“Words cannot express how I’m feeling. It’s unimaginable. Sometimes I get emotional, too, to know that they’re alive, especially my father, because he went through a very hard time,” she said.