Love is what keeps us together
Like most couples, Charles and Gloria Medeiros have had their ups and downs, but through it all they’ve stayed together, for sixty years.
People are always asking them what their secret is, but they think the answer is fairly simple: love.
“I always loved her and respected her, and she respected me,” Mr Medeiros said. “That is the main thing. When we have a disagreement we talk about it.
“Someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong. You can’t be right all the time. Sixty years hasn’t been a bed of roses, but love is what keeps us together.”
The couple celebrated six decades together on April 24, by getting together for lunch at Lobster Pot, with their bridesmaids and groomsmen, some of whom came from overseas for the event. They grew up in Fajã de Cima, São Miguel, Azores. Mrs Medeiros lived across the street from Mr Medeiros’s grandfather, but they never really talked with one another.
“My mother, Maria Conceição Pereira Martins, said not to talk to boys,” Mrs Medeiros said. “She said they were naughty.”
Mr Medeiros’s family moved to Bermuda in 1949 when he was 13, and Mrs Medeiros’s family followed a few months later in 1950. Both their fathers had already worked in Bermuda for several years, before bringing their families over.
A few years after moving to the island, Mr Medeiros would often see his future wife walking along Laffan Street in the mornings, on her way to her job in the Belco office.
He wanted to talk to her, but Mrs Medeiros still took her mother’s warning about boys very seriously. “She wouldn’t even look at me,” the 82 year old said.
But Mr Medeiros was determined that they would talk to one another, the equivalent of dating in those days, in the Portuguese community.
So one Sunday afternoon, Mr Medeiros went to her house. When he found she wasn’t at home, he talked to her father, Jose Pereira Martins.
When Mr Martins learnt Mr Medeiros wanted to talk to his daughter, he quizzed Mr Medeiros a little, asking if he’d already been talking to her.
“I said, ‘well not yet. I’d like to talk to her’,” Medeiros said. “I said I’d come back next Sunday.”
Later he learnt that Mr Martins quizzed his daughter when she came home, wanting to know whether she’d already been talking to Mr Medeiros.
But in the end, her father decided that Mr Medeiros was from a good, hard-working family, and if she wanted to talk to him she could. “The rest is history,” Mr Medeiros said.
On April 24, 1958, the couple were married in St Theresa’s Cathedral in Hamilton.
At that time, Mr Medeiros had been working at Frith’s Hardware Store on Front Street for several years, giving his earnings to his father, Alfredo Medeiros, to help him build a house.
“I didn’t mind,” Mr Medeiros said. “I wanted to help him out. He’d give me a £1 back every week. I had to save that.”
Before the wedding, Mr Medeiros had saved just enough to buy furniture for their apartment, but couldn’t afford an ice box. “Gloria, said not to worry, she had enough saved up for that, so she bought the ice box,” he remembered.
Today they have a condo back in the Azores and visit every summer.
They said life in the Azores was very difficult when they were children.
Mrs Medeiros’s father worked in Bermuda for several years in the 1920s, saving all his money to send home to the Azores. Then his bank in the Azores collapsed, leaving him broke.
“He had to go back to the Azores,” Mrs Medeiros said. “That’s when I was born.”
Mrs Medeiros’s father took the loss of his savings very hard.
“He just about went crazy,” Mrs Medeiros said. She remembered that he would never let their mother put sugar in their porridge.
“He said we might grow up to marry someone who was too poor for sugar,” the 81 year old said. “He would even taste it to make sure she hadn’t put any in it for us. And you know, porridge tastes terrible without sugar.”
After a few years, he returned to Bermuda to work, and eventually brought the rest of the family out.
Mrs Medeiros’s mother grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, and only moved back to the Azores when she was 16.
Mrs Martins was fluent in English and was often asked to write letters and translate them for other people in the village.
“She’d often try to teach my two sisters and myself to speak English,” Mrs Medeiros said. “But we didn’t want to learn. Nobody else around us spoke English. We’d say we can’t understand you, speak Portuguese!”
That was something she came to deeply regret when she and her mother and two sisters, moved to Bermuda.
“I didn’t know a word,” Mrs Medeiros said. “When we were at Dellwood, we had to learn table, chair and so forth.”
But Mrs Medeiros could only stay at Dellwood a few months. School only went to 13, and she was already 13 when she arrived. She had to leave when she turned 14 that December.
But her mother made arrangements so that she could attend Mount St Agnes Academy.
“It was so hard doing English compositions,” Mrs Medeiros said. “My father wanted us to graduate, but after two years I said that was enough.”
When Mr Medeiros arrived in Bermuda, he’d been hoping to attend school, but he was already too old.
“I had to do night school at Prospect,” he said. “That’s where I learnt all of my English.”
“At first, Bermuda was strange,” he said. “I had left my aunts and grandfather in the Azores. I loved my grandfather. He had grapes and he used to make his own wine.
“I was happy with that environment. Here I had no friends and I couldn’t go to school. It was hard. But after awhile I said this is for me and I stayed here all these years. I volunteered with the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps when I was 18.”
The couple grew up in the Azores under Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar.
“Life under Salazar was terrible,” Mr Medeiros said. “You couldn’t leave the island if you were 18 because they wanted to keep you for the army. They had all these African wars.
“We were glad to come to Bermuda, although I was not of age for the army. My brother, Herman, was 16 and my brother, Bobby, was 18. He had to stay back in the Azores for another year, because of the army business.”
The family eventually got help from lawyer Sir Edward Trenton Richards (who would go on to be Bermuda’s first premier), and Bobby Medeiros was able to come to Bermuda also.
For many years, the brothers ran a vegetable cart, Medeiros Brothers Fruit and Vegetable with Louis Moniz and Ralph Marshall.
Today, the couple are retired. Mr Medeiros loves playing golf, and Mrs Medeiros loves bingo on her iPad.
The couple enjoy travelling and have been on several cruises together.
They have two children, Richard and Debbie, and five grandchildren.
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