Will you marry me on Wednesday?
It has been 30 years coming but when Blenheim man Des Barson finally got round to asking Kaki Manuera to marry him it was as much a surprise for him as it was for his wife-to-be.
Mr Barson has cancer and is a patient at Hospice Marlborough in Blenheim. While chatting with a nurse last week, he casually mentioned he and Ms Manuera had been together for almost 30 years. The nurse said the hospice had a marriage celebrant on site and had held weddings there before, and the next thing Mr Barson knew dates were being set and plans concocted.
"It was a bloody surprise to me," he said. "I said, ‘Whoa, hang on a second'."
But he quickly came around to the idea and popped the question to Ms Manuera when she went to the hospice to visit him.
"I said, ‘How would you like to get married on Wednesday?'," Mr Barson said.
Ms Manuera accepted.
"I said to Des, ‘You had better hang in there until then'."
Rings were bought and marriage licence acquired, and the private ceremony is to be held at 5pm tomorrow at the hospice lounge, with nibbles and drinks afterwards.
It would be a casual affair, Mr Barson said.
"I will be in an old pair of grey trousers and an open-neck shirt."
However, Ms Manuera has plans to go a bit more up-market.
Guests include Mr Barson's brothers and their wives as well as 15 friends.
Their children are being kept out of the loop until after the ceremony. The plan is to give them all a surprise call on Wednesday night, Mr Barson said.
Ms Manuera said she was hopeful Mr Barson would make it to Christmas.
"We will have a Maori boil-up and do something fun together."
The two met in the sergeants' mess hall at Wigram airforce base in Christchurch in 1983. Both had been in the air force and both had four children each from previous marriages.
They moved to Blenheim in 1986 where they stayed until they retired in 1997.
The Marlborough Express