Despite separate church memberships, their hearts stay connected. Through the ups and downs of marriage, neither has ever considered divorce. Zelmyra adamantly opposes the idea of divorce and remarriage. “I didn’t know it would be as long as it is now,” she says of her 86 years with the same man. “I knew that I wouldn’t be looking for another husband.”
Zelmyra doesn’t attribute her long, vibrant life to healthy eating, exercise or costly nutritional supplements. Her efforts have been focused on her inner person and building relationships with others. “[You have to] know how to talk to people,” she says. “Try to treat everyone right.”
The centenarians have a loving understanding of each other and enjoy a simple life. They are fond of television news programs, and Herbert especially likes watching his favorite baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. They also take pleasure in sitting on their front porch to watch neighbors come and go and railroad trains whisk by.
“I think it is a blessing first that two people can ultimately love each other, respect each other and still want to be each other’s friend,” Godette says. “These days, you just don’t hear of a couple that stays together so long. They took those vows, ‘till death do us part,’ seriously. They have weathered the storms. There were good times and bad times, but they stuck it out.”
Those bad times include the lean years of the Great Depression when Herbert worked for as little as a nickel a day. They had to raise their own food and ration it for their young children. Perhaps those difficult years bonded and empowered them to remain married for so long.
“They cherish each other,” Godette continues. “If they had to be apart, their lives wouldn’t be as fruitful. . . . They are connected. They are soul mates.”