Love is a burning thing ?
By EMMA CORNFORD
IT was the year 1947 in Winton, Queensland.
Eighteen-year-old Margaret Garrett went off to train as a nurse in Brisbane. Her sweetheart, cattle worker Charlie Schroder, was heavy-hearted to see her go.
A year later he ended up in the Clarence Valley where he worked as a train driver, then supervisor.
For the next 58 years, Charlie and Margaret didn't see each other.
Fast forward to Brisbane in the year 2005.
Margaret, who had since been married and had eight children and was then widowed, received a phone call. It was Charlie.
"I had to sit down. I thought 'it must be important if they're not calling off-peak', but when it was him ... ," Margaret's voice trailed off yesterday as she giggled and looked lovingly at Charlie, remembering hearing his voice for the first time in 58 years.
In that time, Charlie had married and fathered five children before his wife became ill and died four years ago. Because he could not read or write, Charlie had not contacted Margaret, but he had always wondered how her life had panned out.
Last year, he decided to travel to Winton and find out. The first person he asked told him that Margaret had died ? but Charlie didn't let that stop him.
"I asked another lady and she said 'I remember you two when you were an item'," Charlie said.
"She gave me the number and I came back here (to Grafton) and called it. I did think that maybe she wouldn't want to speak to me because I hadn't contacted her in all that time, so I was prepared for that."
But the pair talked for hours and a few weeks later Charlie headed north to meet with Margaret. Their relationship blossomed.
"We'd speak for two to three hours on the phone and he came up to visit me a few times. We still don't know who suggested it but we decided to get married ? we weren't going to wait another 50 years," Margaret said.
On August 13 they married at St Bernard's church in Brisbane, with 400 friends and family members sharing one of the happiest moments of Margaret and Charlie's lives.
"At first we didn't tell anyone we were getting married, but then we decided we should tell our families and you should have seen their reactions," Margaret said.
"My eldest daughter came up from Canberra and said 'I need to see what you're going to marry'. Everyone was so wonderful and they're all so supportive."
The newlyweds haven't yet had a honeymoon ? the day after the wedding Charlie spent a week in hospital.
"The doctors were really good ? they said this was the first time they had honeymooners in hospital," Margaret said.
But for Mr and Mrs Schroder, that's irrelevant.
"These are the happiest days of our lives," Charlie said.