Love in the time of care

Madam Tan and Mr Lim are among four couples who have met and married at the AWWA Senior Community Home. The retired odd-job workers fell in love while at the home and were married in 2009. In the seven years of living together, they have hardly quarr
Madam Tan and Mr Lim are among four couples who have met and married at the AWWA Senior Community Home. The retired odd-job workers fell in love while at the home and were married in 2009. In the seven years of living together, they have hardly quarrelled.PHOTOS: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Love can blossom in one's golden years, even in a seniors' home.

Mr Lim Hoo Ching, 86, and Madam Tan Khin Lan, 75, are among four couples who have met and married at the AWWA Senior Community Home. The retired odd-job workers have been living at the home for the needy elderly for over a decade.

Set up in 1976, the home occupies three floors of a Housing Board block in Ang Mo Kio.

The couple's love grew when Madam Tan helped tend to wounds on Mr Lim's feet, which got infected in 2008, likely due to bacteria or a skin allergy. They were living on different floors of the block then.

She went to a shop near Tekka Centre to buy a medical powder. She mixed it with water to wash his feet, which finally got well after nearly a year.

Volunteers pooled money to buy clothes and jewellery, including wedding rings, for the couple.

From her kindness, he knew she would make a loving wife; so he proposed to her at a coffee shop on National Day in 2008. They tied the knot a year later, when he was 79 and she was 68.

Their wedding was held in a recreation room at the AWWA home.

Staff, volunteers and other residents of the home held a mini-banquet, complete with a small wedding cake. The buffet started at 5.30pm, the usual dinner time for the elderly residents then.

Volunteers pooled money to buy clothes and jewellery, including wedding rings, for the couple. The sick bay, the home's only air-conditioned residential room then, was made over for their wedding night.

The marriage was Mr Lim's first and the second for Madam Tan, a divorcee.

Years after tending to Mr Lim's feet, Madam Tan still cares for him. He cannot see clearly or walk quickly, so she often goes out to buy food and cook for him at home.

And in the seven years of living together, they have hardly quarrelled, she told The Sunday Times.

She said in Mandarin: "He's very quiet. Even if I scold him, he doesn't talk back much."

Priscilla Goy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 26, 2016, with the headline 'Love in the time of care'. Print Edition | Subscribe