A DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY DREAM COMES TRUE FOR ARTHUR AND YVONNE
Like most Sri Lankan love stories of the 1950s, the beautiful and enduring love story between Arthur (affectionately known as Dodo) Pietersz and Yvonne de Kauwe began in the suburb of Nugegoda, an enclave of the Burgher community in Colombo, formerly Ceylon, where love blossomed between teenage boys and girls despite the difficulties encountered under the watchful eye of strict parents and grandparents, even adult relatives and friends, who frowned upon young love and the choices of their children’s affection.
Many a love story started in the backyards of the houses of the Burghers who resided there as their children matured into beautiful and handsome teenagers and experienced the stirrings of love for a local boy or girlfriend they grew up with.
And so it goes that this beautiful young damsel, Yvonne de Kauwe, whose chore it was to sweep the fallen leaves from the breadfruit tree in the family’s garden, started to like her task so much that she went overboard with her call of duty for a clean garden, always sweeping to coincide with the passing by of the handsome, swashbuckling, local Audie Murphy, the young Arthur Pietersz, riding his bicycle to and from work; and so began the love between this young girl and boy, after the difficult job of getting permission from the family patriarchs and matriarchs nonetheless, which was to last 60 years of unwavering and faithful devotion to each other.
As customary in those days, there was no private invitations, just a ‘come one, come all’ invitation in the major newspapers circulating in Colombo. The wedding took place at St Thomas’ Church, Kotte, on 3 August 1957
While love was abundant in this marriage, income was not, and the family accounts had to be managed, so Yvonne, the accomplished seamstress, set about making her name as the wedding dressmaker to supplement the income of Arthur’s job as a Fireman in the Ceylon Government Railways, who it has been said, reluctantly went to work because he was so enamoured of his pretty bride and wanted to stay at home and protect her from the prying eyes of other young males who appreciated her beauty.
Arthur and Yvonne, together with their four sons, made their family home in Negombo, Sri Lanka, for many years of their early married life, before arriving in Australia in 1970, to make Sydney their home and live close to Yvonne’s family.
In Australia, Arthur and Yvonne worked very hard to keep the home fires burning, doing early morning shifts and late night finishes, until retirement, Arthur as a Shunter with Sydney Rail and Yvonne working at pharmaceutical and beauty companies Pfizer, Eli Lily and Baxter, giving their sons a loving and stable family environment, education and support, and overseeing their maturity into entrepreneurial businessmen.
Their homes, first in Parramatta and then Marayong, have always been welcome havens for interstate family and friends holidaying in Sydney, who were always assured of a warm bed and a hot rice and curry and never-ending welcoming gestures. Arthur and Yvonne loved their parties, a usual trait of Burgher families, more so with Yvonne coming from a large family of dancers and singers, whereas Arthur was a the home bird, loving his smoking, gardening and pottering around, nevertheless always on hand to shadow Yvonne to all social outings, cutting a dashing figure on the dance floor and always fun to be around.
Arthur’s and Yvonne’s wedded life has been peppered with some extreme highs and some extreme lows, but the humility and sereneness of this couple when dealing with the cards dealt to them were exemplary, supporting each other through thick and thin, and their faith in God never faltering. If you ask people what they think of this couple, they will tell you that never a bad word has been spoken about them by anyone. Can’t ask for a better testimony than that, can you?
And so, you couldn’t wish anything more than that this couple could be together and in good health to celebrate their Diamond wedding anniversary, a celebration which was well patronised by relatives and friends from interstate who travelled to be part of such a special day in the lives of such precious people who had made an impact on their lives at some stage or other.
Following a blessing for the couple from Yvonne’s parish priest, Fr Jobe of St Andrew’s Church, Marayong, a formal reception was held at the Stonecutter’s Ridge Golf Club, Colbee, where guests were treated to nostalgic speeches by Vevil, Stanmore and Malcolm De Kauwe (Yvonne’s brothers), Randy Pietersz (Arthur’s nephew representing the Pietersz family), sons Gary, Ricky and Adrian (Denham dec.) and grandkids Felicity, Riva, Jager and Aysha (Thomas overseas). Music was provided by son Gary Pietersz and Roger Menzies, with guest singers Malcolm de Kauwe and Amanda Dee (niece). Yvonne responded to a surprise challenge to sing a special duet ‘Send Me the Pillow’ with brother Malcolm, showing guests that she had not her touch as a De Kauwe nightingale. A special bonus was the presence of the original bridal party, Penny Gunasekera (bridesmaid), Rosie de Kauwe (bridesmaid) and Vevil de Kauwe (bestman). Guests enjoyed a special time of dining, dancing and reminiscing at this reunion of family and friends well into the night.
So let’s raise a glass to Arthur and Yvonne Pietersz, where no diamonds on fingers are considered necessary, just the diamond and gold that they have in their hearts for each other and their families and friends.
Arthur and Yvonne, may God bless you with health and happiness for many more years to come, and so say all of us.
Story and photography by Marie Pietersz. Melbourne