Peg has waited patiently to become a wife.
Here, Peg Berdebese, 72, tells the story in her own words.
I ￼remember the first day I met him. It was 1962 and George came into the hotel where I was working as a waitress.
He flashed me a smile and I nodded back, politely.
Old married men should be home with their wife and kids, I thought, carrying on with my work.
After that, he’d come into the hotel with his little Jack Russell dog most weeks and we got to know each other quite well. It turned out George was only 28, but aged 17, that seemed old to me! We had nothing more than a nice friendship though. He was married to Joyce and I was engaged.
As the years went on I got married too and George and I both had families. When George’s marriage ended I was sad for him, but not as sad as I was when my own relationship crumbled aged just 26.
I had to force myself out on New Year’s Eve that year. There didn’t feel like much to be celebrating, but then I bumped into George at the hotel. By now we’d known each other for nine years, but that night something felt different.
Both single, we understood what each other had been through.
With the dawn of a new year I had a big smile on my face and within a few months George and I were an item!
As we fell in love and moved in to a flat together, people naturally thought we’d get married. ‘We don’t need to do that,’ I shrugged.
I’d already had a big white wedding and look how that turned out. ‘We’re happy as we are,’ George smiled. And we really were.
With six children between us, we didn’t have any together, preferring to have dogs instead!
We spent our time travelling around the country at stock car meets and George even built one. It was a beautiful life and our love just blossomed every year. We stood side by side through tragedy too.
All three of George’s children have passed away, Anita Marie, 36, from a brain aneurysm, Angela, 38, to breast cancer, then Julian, 41, was knocked off his motorbike. How will he cope? I thought when the police knocked on our door.
George was very quiet as he bottled up the sadness, but together we carried on. It was the same when my daughter Michelle lost her battle with breast cancer in August 2011.George held me as I cried and was my rock just as I had been his.
It felt like we were due some good news after all the pain, but in 2017 George was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Now 83, he took it in his usual quiet way but when we got home he surprised me. ‘We should get married,’ George said. After more than four decades he was proposing!
Together 46 years, I really didn’t think it would ever happen! ‘We should,’ I laughed.
And off I went that week to buy myself an engagement and wedding ring.
As we made a few wedding plans I went to sort out the legal paperwork.
‘You’re already registered as married,’ a clerk told me as he went through the files. ‘What?’ I gasped.
My ex-husband had told me he’d sorted out a divorce years ago. It wasn’t a problem though. Because he’d passed away, I just had to declare myself widowed. It was a bit strange to think I was getting married just weeks after becoming a widow!
Initially we were going to have a very small wedding, but then my friend Christine got involved. ‘Let’s do it properly,’ she smiled, arranging a gazebo and flowers in our back garden.
Last May, 20 friends and family came to watch us say our vows. I wore a lovely lace top and pink skirt and had a flower in my hair.
‘Look at you,’ I said to George, admiring his dashing tie.
His nurse had lent him a lovely pink one and he looked so smart.
Our dog Benji was best man in a bow tie and most of our grandchildren came dressed to the nines.
Afterwards, George disappeared inside and came back out dressed in his normal clothes.
‘We haven’t even cut the cake yet,’ I laughed.
It was so George and unlike most brides I’d had 46 years to get used to that!
Thankfully, George is doing well. I care for him at home and we haven’t been given any idea of when our time together will end.
I know I’ve been so lucky to spend my life with the man of my dreams and our wedding really was the icing on the cake.
While it might have been four decades in the making, our special day was definitely worth the wait.
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