are not too many of us who will make it through to a golden
wedding anniversary. 50 years married to the same person sounds
daunting, but not for Tom and Dot Delaney. “I couldn’t
imagine life without Dot,” said Tom. “We’re like joined at
the hip,” said Dot. In fact, it is very rare to see one
without the other; they are for everyone in Chiang Mai the
inseparable couple, Tom and Dot or even Dot and Tom. They are
also Mum and Dad for their five children and Grandma and
Granddad for their eight grandchildren.
However, Tom and Dot go back a lot further
than 50 years, both of them living in the same town in Yorkshire
in the UK, and both went to the same school. They first met
there 57 years ago. “We weren’t in the same class,” said
Dot, “He’s older than me.” “And I didn’t carry her
books either,” said Tom.
Three years later Tom joined the British
Army. “He wanted someone to write to him. That’s how it
started,” said Dot. Well, it certainly wasn’t finished,
because he returned and they got engaged. Immediately afterwards
Tom was posted to Malaya (as it was in those days). “That was
where I fell in love with the Far East,” said Tom, but
fortunately that didn’t make him fall out of love with Dot. He
came back and Dot became an Easter bride on April 17, 1954. “I
was a little bit nervous,” said Dot, “I think all brides
are. It’s dipping into the unknown.” However, the groom
claims that he wasn’t nervous at all. “I’d just come back
from jungle warfare, I was ready for everything.”
‘Everything’ eventually turned into five
children (Tom born in Yorkshire, Gerry in Germany, Kathleen in
Ireland, Patricia in Newcastle and Michael in Germany). “We
couldn’t afford a TV in those days,” said Dot, quickly
followed up by Tom saying, “You could do anything while
listening to the radio!” So now you know, kids, you were
conceived during the interval in the BBC News.
The next 20 years were spent travelling all
over the globe, to wherever the British Army would post Tom (and
to places where they could listen to the BBC News service). Much
of the time was spent in Germany, which explains why the second
and fifth children were born there; however, the last posting
was to Hong Kong, where Tom retired in 1974.
They returned to the UK and Dot’s world
changed. “The military was such a busy social life. Civvy
street was just so boring! That’s why we went into pubs.
We’re people people,” said Dot. Of course, when she says
they went into pubs, it wasn’t just a stroll through the front
door for a pint in the afternoon, it was ‘hands on’. They
took on the running of pubs for the next 12 years (and so much
for Tom’s retirement). They were so busy, that at one stage
they were running a pub each!
In the meantime, the family was growing and
one by one flying the coop. In 1984 the two girls decided to go
to Hong Kong to live, and the call of the Far East became too
strong for Tom and Dot, and they followed, where they settled
and ran a gift shop from 1988 till 1997, the time of the
hand-over to China. This looked like an auspicious time for them
to try retiring (again).
They decided to retire on Cyprus and made
plans to go there, but Tom also liked Thailand, so they decided
to stay for a couple of years, while on the way. Those “couple
of years” has stretched into eight, and I think the rovers
have come home to roost.
With today’s electronic communication, Tom
and Dot stay in touch with all their children. “Our family is
very close,” said Tom. “A family can help keep you
together.” So much so, that Tom keeps a file on every member
of the family. He is also a bit of a bower-bird, hoarding such
things as all his daily diaries which he has kept for the 50
plus years. “He’s even got all the letters I wrote to
him,” said Dot.
I had to ask the question that we all want to
know - how did they stay together for all that time? “Getting
married to become ‘one’ is ridiculous,” said Tom.
“Agreed,” said Dot. “I don’t think there’s anyone more
different than my Dot,” said Tom chipping in again. They
certainly have different tastes, Tom liking documentaries and
the news on TV (probably remembering the BBC radio again), while
Dot professes to be interested in programmes on China and
medical dramas. Tom reads crime fiction and does crosswords,
while Dot reads, “Anything I can get my hands on, especially
But despite the differences, the prime factor
that comes through is that they show consideration for each
other. “You have to like and respect each other,” said Tom.
It obviously also helps if you have a good
sense of humour. “We’ve always been able to have a good
laugh. We’ve always had enough people around to have a
party,” said Dot, and the party to end all parties is on the
17th of April this year, their Golden Wedding. To be held at the
Amari Rincome, the family have flown in from all over the world,
plus friends and well-wishers. Dot (the organizer) has planned
it all. “Tom helped,” said Dot, “he signed the cards!”
Looking back on it all, Dot said, “Fifty
years sounds long - but I don’t know where the time’s
gone.” Tom, five kids and eight grandchildren could probably
tell you, Dot!
It was a pleasure spending time with these happy people
reminiscing on times gone by. Like many of our readers, I am
jealous of you at having attained such a wonderful milestone.
Congratulations from everyone at the Chiangmai Mail, and I look
forward to being at the 75th.