The Royal Gazette 25 Jul 2009 By Jessie Moniz
Communication and laughter are the secrets to a happy marriage.
This came from Bermudians Sophie and Michael Panchaud who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this week.
The Panchauds have lived in Ontario, Canada for many years, but celebrated this special milestone with a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit to Bermuda with 34 of their family members.
“We have been planning this for three years,” Mrs. Panchaud said. “I told my family this is what I wanted to do for my 50th, I wanted to go back to the church where I was married. Doing the cruise was the best solution, because of the size of the family.”
The Panchauds were childhood sweethearts.
“We met in Dellwood School when I first came to Bermuda,” said Mrs. Panchaud. Mrs. Panchaud’s maiden name was Cordeiro and her family were originally from the Azores. “But I didn’t notice him until I was 12. We were in the same class. He use to pull my blouse, or flick me on the back. I pretended not to like it.”
The two parted ways when she went on to Mount St. Agnes Academy.
“I had a job after school, on Saturdays,” she said. “I would be sent to the Bank of Butterfield on errands. He was working as a teller there. ”
Sparks flew again.
“We used to sneak out and meet each other in the Bermuda library. I wasn’t allowed to date.”
Her father wouldn’t give his approval for them to date until after she finished high school. They were married two years after her graduation.
“We have been very happy,” she said. “He just has to remember I am the boss! What has made us successful is the fact that we keep communicating with each other. “Anything that is going on we discuss it. We don’t leave it up to chance that he knows what I am thinking. Communication is extremely important.”
And she said their lives were full of laughter.
“With six children you need a big sense of humour,” she said.
They have six sons Mark, Daniel, Kevin, James, Thomas and Phillip.
“After the sixth one we stopped holding hands,” said Mrs. Panchaud, with a laugh.
The Panchauds have their own business dealing in battery backup electronic support systems in Kitchener, Ontario.
“I am 69, and my husband is 70 years old,” she said. “We were 19 when we were married. My husband had to get his mother’s permission for us to marry because 21 was the age of majority at the time.”
The couple have have fourteen grandchildren.
While in Bermuda, their marriage was blessed at St. Theresa’s Roman Catholic Cathedral where they were married. The blessing was particularly special because their son, James is a permanent deacon at the church.
“Being an ordained deacon, he was able to give us the blessing,” she said. “It was very nice. “I still can’t believe that I didn’t cry the whole way through. I am a bawly baby with everything. Somehow it didn’t happen.”
And she said she didn’t cry at her wedding either.
“I was so happy to get married and be out of my parents’ control,” she said. “I was lucky to get a wonderful husband. He is a kind, considerate man and I couldn’t have better.”
Her advice to other young women was make sure you love him for him.
“Don’t try to change him later,” she said. “Make sure the person you are dating is the person you love, not someone you are imagining. After 50 years and they lose all their hair and they have a big belly, you are sure glad you didn’t marry them for their looks.”
She said coming from different cultural backgrounds was never a hindrance to their marriage.
“He is Bermudian, he was born here,” she said. “His family and ours were very different in their ways of doing things, but I was loud enough to take over. Ha.”
And she said the challenges of marriage change as you go through different life stages.
“When you first start it is all about how you are going to be able to buy the house and support your children,” she said. “You are so busy with that for many years. Then suddenly the children are all gone and you have to watch your health. We have been very blessed with a healthy family.”