Real Life

Real life: Reunited by fate after 30 years apart

Three decades and two continents couldn’t get between our love.

By As told to Take 5

Charlene Sapsford, 51, Penrith, NSW shares her incredible love story:

As I jumped off the school bus, I heard someone shouting behind me.
"Hey, you!" a voice said. 
I turned and noticed a tall boy with a strong jawline and floppy brown hair chasing after me.
"I'm Peter. I'm in the year above you at school," he smiled. "Reckon I can walk you home?"
"Sure," I replied, blushing. 
I was only 14, but was stoked to have a boy notice me.
Peter lived down the road from my family, and we got on like a house on fire.
We also had the same group of friends and were always joking around together.
It eventually became routine for us to walk to and from school together.
One day, Peter asked me out on a date.
"Yeah, that'd be great," 
I grinned sheepishly.
He soon became the love of my life.
We'd hang out at his house and I'd watch him tinker with his motorbike.
It was bliss 
for four years, 
but then Peter graduated Year 12 and moved out of our town, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
As the weeks passed, our phone calls and conversations dwindled. It became clear our relationship had fizzled out.
When I graduated the following year, I moved away too, and worked at an estate agency in Johannesburg.
I lived in an apartment 
with my sister, and soon 
met a charming man in 
the apartment block where 
we lived.
Six months later, we tied the knot and then had two boys.
Christmas Day in 1983, back in South Africa (Image exclusive to Take 5)
Over the years, my high school sweetheart Peter was never far from my mind.
What went wrong? Had he found someone else? I often wondered.
Late at night, when everyone was asleep, I'd creep into the living room and search his 
name online.
My stomach flipped with excitement with every picture and Google result about him. He was the acting CEO of a company and his picture was on the website.
Searching for him online became my guilty pleasure.
Years later, when my grandma sadly passed away, 
I phoned Peter's mum to tell her the news.
They'd known each other from the old neighbourhood.
"So how's Peter doing?" I casually dropped into the conversation.
"Oh, he's great," she exclaimed, "He's married with a baby on the way."
When I hung up, I felt a pang of disappointment.
Why am I so upset? I have 
a husband and babies too! 
I thought.
Us at Peter's year 12 formal in 1985. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
I tried to put Peter out of my mind and focus on my own family.
A few years later, we were due to move to Australia with my hubby's work.
Before we left, 
I contacted Peter's mum again, asking her to let him know I was relocating 
to Sydney.
It saddened me to think 
I'd never see him again.
he never contacted me, so 
I assumed he was happily married.
As soon as we moved, cracks started to show in my own marriage, and my husband and I separated.
It was freeing to be single again, but I still couldn't get Peter out of my mind.
I looked him up again, on Facebook this time.
We've always belonged together. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
When I saw his picture staring back at me, my stomach fluttered with butterflies.
His hair was shorter now, with specks of grey, but he was still the stunning hunk I'd melted over during my teens.
Straight away, I sent him a friend request.
Hello, long time, no speak! 
I wrote.
I nearly squealed with excitement when he replied right away.
Charlene! How are you? 
It's been ages, he said.
For hours on end we caught up and chatted, just like we had 30 years earlier.
Us now. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
So, are you married? he asked.
I explained I was separated.
Me too, he said.
Straight away I felt a jolt 
of guilty excitement. It was never pleasant to hear of a relationship breakdown, but 
I couldn't help it!
After four blissful months 
of constant chatting over Facebook, the phone, and even video calling, we'd fallen back in love with each other.
"Want to come and visit me?" I asked out of the blue one day. He was still in South Africa but I didn't want to waste any more time. We'd already lost 30 years!
"Love to!" he beamed.
A few weeks later, I stood nervously at the airport arrivals terminal waiting for Peter to arrive.
I felt nervous, and didn't really know what to expect.
While we'd been having 
the most wonderful chats, meeting in person again was completely different.
But as soon as he walked 
out of the gate, we melted into each other's arms.
"I'm so happy you're here,"
 I cried.
I finally married my soul mate. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
For the next two weeks, we spent every moment together, eating, drinking and seeing the sights of Sydney.
I introduced him to my two boys, and he slotted into 
our family perfectly.
When I told my friends I'd reunited with my childhood sweetheart, they gushed with happiness for me.
All too soon it was time for him to go back to South Africa. I was devastated.
"Will I see you again?" 
I sobbed.
"Of course," he promised.
He stuck to his word and was back in my arms a few months later.
We wasted no time, and started organising a visa so he could live here permanently.
One night, while we were pottering about at home, he walked up to me and got down on one knee.
I let out an uncontrollable gasp as he produced a stunning diamond ring.
"Charlene, I don't want to waste any more time without you. Marry me?" he asked.
"Yes," I squealed, jumping into his arms.
It was such a surprise, but I was delighted.
"I always knew you were my soul mate, even at 14," 
I laughed.
Eventually, Peter's visa came through and six months later, we got ready to tie the knot.
We chose my late mum's birthday as our wedding date, and would say our nuptials in front of 
20 close friends 
and family.
Peter fit perfectly into our family. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
I wore a stunning lilac dress as my boys walked me down the aisle to finally marry the love of my life.
Two weeks later, we enjoyed our first Christmas together as newlyweds.
It reminded me of when we enjoyed a feast at our parents' houses as teenagers.
But now, this was our special day. I roasted a chicken and glazed 
a ham and we spoiled each other with gifts.
We even posed for goofy snaps together wearing Santa hats.
Now, I feel so happy that finally my life has fallen into place the way it should be.
After 30 years apart, we're finally back together, exactly where we've always belonged.

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