Andrzej and Janina Mrozewski celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary at their home in Sudbury Saturday, alongside a crowd of family, friends and former colleagues.
The couple, both 89 years old, were married Aug. 21, 1954 in Montreal, where Janina was working as a lab technician at the University of Montreal and Andrzej was finishing his studies at the very same institute.
A love story for the ages, as expressed by many in attendance, daughter Monika Mrozewski-Pahapill said her parents' relationship may have formed from hardship, but it was in having nothing that they learned family was everything.
Born in Poland in June 1930 to Witold and Zofia Karolewski, Janina was orphaned at the age of eight when she was taken away to a labour camp in Russia at the start of the Second World War. From there, Monika said her mother lived as a refugee in Iran, then Lebanon, before moving to England where she worked as a nurse and studied to become a lab technician.
Somewhere between her 19th and 20th birthday, Janina decided to move from England to Montreal, where her sister and cousins had begun to establish roots, said Monika. It was at the home of one of these cousins that Janina first met Andrzej in the spring of 1953.
Andrzej was born in Paris, France in February 1930 to Stefan and Irena Mrozewski, and worked alongside his parents in the "Underground Polish Army" as a messenger boy during the Second World War, said Monika. When the war was over, Andrzej and his parents travelled all over Europe, settling down for a short while in France, before moving to New York.
Now settled into their careers as professional artists, Andrzej's parents moved to California a short while later, while he travelled to Montreal, where Monika said the university was providing assistance to Polish students at the time.
Despite having their fair share of boyfriends and girlfriends prior to their introduction, Andrzej said meeting Janina was love at first sight, although admittedly, she took a bit longer to come around. The couple married a year and a half after meeting.
"We decided (in a snap)," said Andrzej. "I said you're my wife, she said no, I said yes, and we married," he laughed.
When asked what it was about Janina that made him sure she was the one, Andrzej said it was an indescribable feeling, while Janina advised this article's author to stop asking couples that question, as she would have just as much difficulty answering when the time came.
For all that their instant connection did wonders to spark a lifetime of happiness, Andrzej said a bond like they have now is bred from years of compromise and understanding.
"The first years are very difficult but then, slowly but surely, you become one," he said. "There's no secret. It happens. That's it."
Janina said this involves a lot of give and take, but it's important to keep your own counsel along the way, not just that of your partner. "Don't just listen to him, listen to yourself," she said.
Looking back on their years together, the couple said the highlight of their marriage has been their three children; Jasiu, Monika and Andre, as well as their eight grandchildren. Monika said the family gets together every Christmas Eve, regardless of the distance that separates them.
The respect and admiration his parents have earned over the years extend far beyond family said Jasiu, who said his parents have been very involved in the Polish community and local legion since moving to Sudbury in 1972. This, he said, explains the big turnout Sunday.
"People here are (anywhere) from kids to their mid-90s, of all backgrounds and nationalities," said Jasiu. "My parents were always very welcoming."
Growing up, Jasiu said his parents' marriage taught him the importance of agreeing to disagree and keeping a healthy set of expectations for your partner and their behaviour. Monika, on the other hand, said her parents' marriage taught her the value of open and honest dialogue and the foundation of respect that fosters this level of communication.
From all of us at Sudbury.com, happy anniversary!