POSITIVE: Gail and Gerald Parker are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on April 20.
POSITIVE: Gail and Gerald Parker are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on April 20. Sarah Marshall

Couple celebrate 50 years ahead of their toughest test yet

IN THE 1960s a young girl moves to a country town and draws the eye of each man when she enters the dance.

It is the type of love story usually told in Hollywood.

On that one night in Cairns about 50 years ago Gail was the wall flower of the dance - one of the girls who sat on the side waiting to be offered a hand by a strapping man.

Fortunately Gerald Parker had already noticed the town's new "angel" sitting alone.

"Cupid was there that night and he hit me with arrows six in the back and six in the front," Gerald said said.

They instantly fell in love and not long after, April 20, 1968, married at St John Church in Cairns.

Gail and Gerald Parker were only 17 and 19 at the time, and Mr Parker can remember travelling to Ayr and asking for her father's permission to marry.

"You can imagine her father was sitting there looking at you," he said.

"I said I'm a labourer, I've been working in the cane fields all my life and I said we haven't got much no but through my hard work I can provide for the family and put food on the table."

"My dad liked him and gave him permission," Mrs Parker added.

In 50 years together the couple has had the same ups and downs most marriages do.

 

Gail and Gerald Parker are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year.
Gail and Gerald Parker are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year. Sarah Marshall

The Parkers' love has survived thanks to respect and the bond brought by children.

Their secrets; support, respect each other and solve an argument on the same day.

"My hubby has got a very positive attitude and he's very optimistic and has brought us through some rough times," Mrs Parker said.

Their enduring love was put under the toughest test when Gerald suffered a stroke 11 years ago - which left son James as a second carer.

They survived that before late in 2016 something strange started happening.

"Gerald started to have a bit of memory loss," she said.

At the same time he was diagnosed with bowel cancer, but refused to have the operation, believing he would die on the table.

"The Lord is going to take him," Mrs Parker said. "He's not going to have tubes down his throat, he's not going to have life support."

A weakening body has put Mr Parker, the once strong cane cutter, in Riverview Gardens aged-care facility.

"I come and visit him every day," Mrs Parker said.

"It's a really emotional roller-coaster ride."

Dementia has slowly crept in and taken a painful toll on the couple.

"The brain cells are slowly dying and it's going to get worse and worse and he won't recognise me at all."

Clutching his beloved wife's hand, Mr Parker defiantly tells her; "that will never happen".

They born-again Christians are approaching the end with the same positive attitude and faith in God that has kept them together.

"You live and you die," Mrs Parker said.