Norm reaches for Maureen’s hand as they walk in step to Fotheringham Park in Taree.
They walk slowly, talk easily and laugh quickly. Their fingers intertwine as they navigate the sloping path and soft grass, and they support each other to walk the uneven terrain as they both have new knees. It is evidence of love.
Norm Adams, 83, and Maureen Adams, 81, know how to care for each other; they’ve been doing it for a long time and on Valentine’s Day, February 14, they will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
Norm contends “Valentine’s Day wasn’t around when we got married.” It is one of many comical quips to pepper his conversation, and Maureen laughs, even as it appears that she’s heard them all before.
They first met when Maureen was 13 and Norm was 15. Norm’s brother, Kevin courted Maureen’s sister, Josie. The two families knew the other, but it wasn’t until years later during an evening at Luna Park in Sydney that Norm and Maureen saw each other as possibly being more than family friends.
“In 1955 I bought a Holden ute and a few mates arranged to go to Luna Park. The girl they had arranged for me didn’t turn up,” Norm said.
“Maureen was crossing a pedestrian crossing coming home from work and I yelled, ‘Hey, do you want to go to Luna Park tonight?’ and well, she’s tagged along with me ever since! She was my first girlfriend and last.”
Maureen laughs and adds, “he was a bit shy.”
“She thought I was wealthy, but she came a gutsa,” Norm laughs.
Their romance began and around three years later Norm and Maureen married in Fairfield Methodist Church on 14 February 1959.
“After we got married, a few weeks later Maureen said she was going to leave me, and I said, that’s fine, I’m coming with you.
“He’s still saying that,” Maureen laughs.
They made their first home in Merrylands, in a modest two-bedroom fibro house purchased for $6200 in a new street development.
"Norm was working for a painter, who was working for a builder, and he built a whole street of these homes and so we picked one that we liked and it was built even before we got married,” Maureen said.
“We were only there for five years. It’s still there and hasn’t changed much.” Norm adds.
A desire to dairy farm saw Norm and Maureen leave Merrylands and head north to Lorne, near Kendall, on the Mid North Coast.
It was a big change, and their first year on the farm was tough.
“It was hard. We went through a big drought the first year, a huge drought in 1964. The money wasn’t there and the dairy industry was sort of going down,” Maureen said.
“But saying that, I reckon they were the best years of our life. There was a community, and if anything was wrong, someone was there to help you. You only had to get on the phone and anybody would come to help you. It was a dairy farming community and it was a way of life,” Norm added.
During 16 years on the farm, Norm and Maureen created a family with the birth of two daughters, Leonie and Karen. It was a traditional marriage, Norm doing most of the dairying and farm work, with Maureen helping with the milking and caring for their home and family.
The decision to move to Kundle Kundle was hard but necessary, and saw Norm begin a new career in pest control, first working as an employee and then acting to establish a business, Norm Adams Pest Service. They lived in Kundle Kundle for 34 years before moving to Taree four years ago.
“I still had my tractor after 49 years but I had to toss up whether I would advertise my wife or my tractor for sale,” Norm laughs.
Their banter is light and reflects an ease founded in six decades of shared life experiences. They both acknowledge their marriage has had it challenges, and cite love, patience and working as a team as essential components of sustaining and growing their relationship.
“We’ve always loved one another and you’ve got to be patient with one another. Share everything and work as a team,” Maureen said.
“We’ve had a good time. We’ve just got on so well together, and since we’ve retired we have travelled around Australia almost three times,” Norm said.
Norm and Maureen still like to travel, although Norm says, “we don’t do it as much since we’ve gotten older.”
Their next trip will be just up the road to North Haven in early March. Their extended family will travel north from Newcastle and south from Coffs Harbour to meet at a caravan park and celebrate their wedding anniversary. The family has grown to include four grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, and Norm and Maureen could not be prouder.
So it will be dinner for two on Valentine’s Day, and both say, “they couldn’t be happier.”