LAUGHTER is key for Alec and Joan Gagino.
And after seventy years of sharing that very thing together, the pair says it’s the secret ingredient that’s kept their unwavering love alive throughout seven decades of married life.
So on their 70th Valentine’s Day together, a day which also happens to be Alec’s 93rd birthday and the 21st anniversary of the place they call home, the pair sat down to reflect on their journey.
Alec and Joan have lived in Bolton Clarke’s Inverpine Retirement Village in Murrumba Downs for more than 20-years, first viewing their home on 14 February 21-years ago.
Joan, a well-practiced artist and Alec, a keen handy-man had a “love at first sight” kind of romance.
“It was kind of like Married at First Sight,” Alec said.
“When I got back from the Navy, we got married, it was as simple as that.”
Two weeks after the bombing of Darwin, at the age of 17, Alec quit his job so he could enlist with the Royal Australian Navy.
It was this series of events which became defining moments and led to his romance with Joan.
Alec was eager to join the Navy, however much to his dismay they didn’t need him straight away.
Taking his father’s advice, he reluctantly took a job with a factory where the love of his life was also working.
It wasn’t long after the pair met that Alec was called to serve forcing the couple to continue their romance through letter writing.
But after his return, they picked straight up where they left off. A love which felt so simple in fact that within a year they married.
It was Australia Day of 1947 when that magic happened.
“He proposed to me on Bourke Street in front of a jewellery shop. He pointed at the rings and said which one do you want?” Joan said.
“I said, hang on you haven’t actually asked me yet, and he said ‘Well will you or won’t you?’, and that was my engagement.”
Simplicity has always been key to the couple’s happiness, a happiness they’ve shared with their two daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
They built their life together from humble beginnings due to the restrictions imposed on them after the war.
The couple reminisce about their first home, car and family camping trips. They didn’t have much but they were always happy.
“Back then you could count on not seeing anyone until your husband came home at night,” Joan said.
“It was life in the slow lane.”
Originally from Melbourne, the pair came to Queensland after their eldest daughter and her family made the move.
Alec said the decision was simpler than one would think – in fact he didn’t have much choice.
“Joan used to come visit,” he said.
“One day I picked her up from the airport and she told me she’d bought a house in Brisbane.”
After the move, Alec continued working into his 70’s before they retired and made the move to Inverpine in 1997.
Their lifestyle allows them to continue with the things they’ve always loved, celebrating their 70th Valentine’s Day with a meal at the Tavern just a two-minute drive from their home.
Joan says other than making happiness a priority, a love like hers an Alec’s is one which simply should be worked on every single day.
“Marriage isn’t perfect,” she said.
“You’ll have your rows.
“Just have a laugh – what else can you do?”