LOVE, HEARTBREAK THEN 65 YEARS LATER MR & MRS
YOU South Africa|2 December 2021
Dirk and Estelle were starstruck teenagers – then life got in the way. Now they’ve found each other again and they’re smitten
JACO HOUGH-COETZEE

IT’S the mid-1950s and in a small park in the Eastern Cape town of Aliwal North two teenagers have eyes only for each other, exchanging promises of everlasting love beneath a star-studded sky.

Dirk van der Westhuizen and Estelle Pelser, 16 and 15 at the time, can’t imagine life without each other and the future seems set in stone.

But life, as it so often does, intervenes.

Barely a year later, Estelle and her parents move to Pretoria and the lovestruck teenagers vow not to let distance separate them, promising to write to each other.

And for a while they do. But as the months pass, the flurry of letters slows to a trickle and two years later, Dirk finds out Estelle has met someone else.

For most people, that’s where the story ends – a bittersweet tale of young love cut short. Sometimes, however, love can be patient, lying dormant in the heart until the spark is rekindled.

In 2021, 65 years after they parted, Estelle (81) and Dirk (82) are newlyweds. They’re as in love as ever – in fact, it’s safe to say they look just like the loved-up teenagers they once were.

“We’ve picked up where we left off,” Estelle says.

“We’re trying to make up for lost time now,” adds Dirk, gazing lovingly at his new wife.

WHEN Dirk spotted the new girl in the corridors of their high school in Aliwal North, he couldn’t keep his eyes off her.

He made some enquiries and found out her name was Estelle and before long he’d plucked up the courage to ask her to the movies one Saturday afternoon.

“I was no pauper – I was earning an astronomical 10 shillings [about R1] a week from my part-time job at the local dairy,” he tells us.

Saturday afternoon movies soon became a regular date and they’d spend it holding hands. It wasn’t long before they were “going steady”.

“He was my Superman, beautifully built with broad shoulders,” Estelle recalls.

“We were madly in love,” Dirk adds.

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