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      The British Virgin Islands       OnePaper Community Edition       October 17th, 2018      
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After 50 Years - Letter Brings Couple Together
Sunday Gleaner - Jamaica

Kenneth & Phyllis Tam
Kenneth & Phyllis Tam
     Gleaner Letter Brings Couple Together After 50 Years
     JUST over a month ago, on May 30 to be exact, a letter written by Trinidadian Kenneth Tam was published in The Gleaner. He was seeking to find an old friend, Phyllis Carrington, from his university class of 1951.
     Four weeks later, on July 1, another notice was published. This time, on the notice board at the St. Luke's Anglican Church in Cross Roads where the banns of marriage announcing the union of Kenneth Tam and Phyllis Carrington, was posted.
     Phyllis and Kenneth were friends while at the University College of the West Indies (UCWI), now the University of the West Indies (UWI), between 1949 and 1951. At the end of their studies, Kenneth earned a Bachelor of Science degree, returned home to Trinidad, got married and raised three children. Phyllis, with her Bachelor of Arts degree, remained in Jamaica and devoted her life to teaching, singing, painting and raising "thousands of children".
     "We knew each other from university. There were a few of us who always went out together," the new bride said.
     "Put it this way, I was the official chaperone for Phyllis and her friends," her husband said.
     This was one of a series of interjections, finishing each other's sentences. They even spoke in unison at times, as if they had kept in touch these past 50 years, since UWI.
     "When my wife became ill she used to say that if she died I could marry Phyllis... After she died, it became extremely frustrating sitting in a house all by myself," the tall, stout, 72-year-old said.
     So he embarked on a quest to find his friend.
     "I asked the Jamaican embassy to help me. I spoke to people who I thought might know her, until someone suggested I write to The Gleaner," Mr. Tam said.
     Phyllis received many calls from friends ­ some with whom she had not spoken for a long time - alerting her to the letter in the paper.
     "I have a brother in Trinidad and anytime I hear word of someone trying to reach me from there I always get worried that something might be wrong with him," the noted soprano said softly.
     She called Trinidad with some trepidation.
     "When she said, 'My name is Phyllis Carrington', immediately my ears perked up because I realised she still had the same last name," Mr. Tam said.
     He started to "put argument" to her.
     "The second time we spoke on the phone I told her that I couldn't have afforded to visit the north coast when I was a student so now I want to come to Jamaica to visit. But, the only way I would go is if she married me," Mr. Tam said.
     This wasn't a suggestion, it was a forthright proposal to which he refused to take 'no' for an answer.
     "She started to give all sorts of reasons why she couldn't and I said the only reason that you could give me for not marrying you is if you had horns on your head," Mr. Tam recalled telling her.
     She stopped protesting and on the third phone call, consented.
     "He didn't propose. He told me he was going to marry me. I was flabbergasted, maybe I was naive but I didn't expect this," the petite 71-year-old bride said.
     Mrs. Tam has lived in Jamaica since college days, and has been longing and planning to return to her country of birth, Barbados. Instead, her new home will be Trinidad. The changes demanded by this season of her life are radical. She, who never thought she would ever marry, will now have to adjust to being a wife and a resident in yet another strange land.
     "I'm not scared. I will be with my friend who is kind, warm and considerate. I know he is a man I can trust. He has so many wonderful qualities. He gave up his business and devoted himself entirely to caring for his ailing wife, how many men would do that!" Mrs. Tam said, girlishly twirling her diamond and sapphire band that was specially designed by Mr. Tam. Around her neck was a stunning gold necklace with a diamond pendant - that was another gift from her groom.
     Despite so many years of being out of touch with her, Mr. Tam said he knows his wife better than she knows herself. This is one of the reasons it was so easy to seek her hand. But he also shared some other reasons.
     "I can only appreciate and like someone if my mind can meet theirs. If I can talk to that person and get a sympathetic and intelligent response; if I can share with someone and fine companionship then I'm pretty happy," Mr. Tam said.
     At the end of these poetic lines, Mrs. Tam quipped, "He likes me for my brain."
     The couple got married at St. Luke's on Friday and had an intimate reception, attended by 25 persons, at the Petals and Promises wedding centre on Central Avenue.
     "We had such a tremendous outpouring of love and support. The response has been difficult to comprehend," Mr. Tam said.
     "People have been so mushy about the whole thing," Mrs. Tam added fussily.
     Seated across from her husband in a comfortable armchair, Mrs. Tam stared into her husband's eyes as she reflected on the virtues of marriage.
     "I don't know how people can take those vows and in two weeks go their separate ways. They accept the "for better" and reject the worse. Now I have someone to share and empathise with. It's a chance to share and be romantic but in a different way (than younger persons would)," Mrs. Tam said.
     Mr. Tam then insisted that excitement and adventure will be a part their marriage, "We're going on the north coast you know..."

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