CARMEL Birgan had “a very exciting secret for a whole year”.
The Birgans and 48 other couples celebrated their golden wedding anniversaries at St Stephen’s Cathedral on October 5.
Twenty-two couples married for more than 50 years, including Giselle and Emmanuel Sarah celebrating their 65th anniversary, were also present.
But Carmel said there was one special difference for her and husband Michael.
“I’d realised when I attended the golden anniversary Mass last year, the celebration Mass would fall on the day of our actual anniversary this year,” she said.
“We’d be celebrating our 50 years on the (October) fifth.
“I kept this wonderful secret for the whole year so it was a real thrill when the day actually arrived.”
The following day at their Underwood home, the couple continued their anniversary celebrations with their four children – Sean, Sally, Sophie and Patrick – and their seven grandchildren.
Carmel said Michael “in a beautiful, beautiful speech” revealed the secret of their long and successful marriage.
“He said it was important to care for each other all the time,” she said.
“Michael also gave me lots of accolades – he said he’d been wrong lots of times, but I was always right.”
Carmel said as an 18-year-old she had met Michael while he was a lifesaver at Mermaid Beach.
In the six months leading up to their marriage, Michael had been away working in the steelworks at Port Kembla.
“I wrote to him every day,” she said.
“In his speech Michael mentioned all the letters have been kept in boxes and the children may one day get to have some interesting reading.”
A table with memorabilia Carmel had kept from their marriage day also proved of great interest and inspiration.
“There was the missal I had on the wedding day and other items such as the orange blossom Michael wore on his suit,” she said.
“My wedding dress was on a model standing by the table.
“All in all it was a perfect weekend of celebrations.”