Jim | Aged 95
Pinner | November 2015

Based in Italy during the Second World War, Jim knew little about love until he met and married his Italian sweetheart, Maria, in 1945. Within three months of their meeting they were husband and wife! Maria was assigned to Jim as an office hand, initially they struggled to communicate because of the language barrier but, besotted by her charm and beauty from the moment they met, Jim used his modest Italian language skills to invite her for a walk. She agreed, however, insisting that he would need to introduce himself to her family beforehand and, more importantly, gain her parent’s permission to take her out. In fact, their first date was a chaperoned trip to a small Naples theatre, a date during which Jim told Maria he was in love and wanted to marry her. Another conversation in Jim’s broken Italian ensued with her father and a small Italian wedding was arranged.

Jim recalls both families were initially opposed to the swiftly taken vows, and wished for them each to marry someone from their respective countries. Jim however was unrelenting in his love, and didn’t believe such things should matter when true love is at stake. Being the post war era, their move to England in 1946 was difficult, and Jim tried his best to help his new wife feel more at home, brushing up his language skills and even visiting all the little Italian coffee shops he knew so Maria could speak in her native tongue. Their marriage of 64 years was one of love and of learning about each other. He still feels that you can’t mistake love, that the feeling is quite simply unmistakable. He misses his wife every day and when she passed away 5 years ago, sensed that he’d lost part of himself, that nothing had any meaning or feeling. Despite that, Jim cherishes their two daughters and the eldest Rita who, as the spitting image of her late mother, keeps a firm eye on him and his waistline!

To hear how Jim asked his sweetheart Maria for her hand in marriage watch the video below: