In a rarest of rare occurrence, a couple from Perde House, Punjalkatte village of Madanthyar in Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka completed 79 years of married life and stepped into their 80th.
The couple Joseph Pais (101) born on May 13, 1919, and Cossess Pais (95) born on March 5, 1925, got married on May 20, 194, at Sacred Heart Church Madanthyar. They are undoubtedly the oldest couple in Mangalore Diocese.
Arranged marriages were normal, in WWII and pre-Independence times. Both the couple’s families were from Madyanthar Parish. Bride Cossess D'Souza, was just 15 when she came to her married home. Cossess recalls that in those days all mothers in- law were strict and feared. “My case was no different, but it gave a stable weight to our early togetherness and affection grew rapidly”, she says.
Life was far from a bed of roses for the couple and the family living in the wilderness of Madanthyar, where the only source of livelihood was agriculture. The couple went through manystruggle to bring up their 13 children –seven daughters girls and six sons. There were a few instances where the couple and sometimes even the children had to struggle for survival. One of the daughters of the couple died at a young age. Five daughters are married and are well settled and the last one is a nun, Sister.Lucy Pais FMA. Among the boys, most of them live in Madanthyar around the home, except for one son, Pascal, who is in Mumbai.
Indeed it's a fairy tale of love personified, family members pitch in with many observations, all very amusing and true.Grandpa Joseph always wants his dear wife around him, a grand-daughter mentions. “If my grandpa cannot see grandma around or hear her voice he keeps calling and looking around for her worried. He won't rest till he finds her. He is attached to her in many ways.”
Son Denis also points out that even now Joseph expects his wife to be present before him as soon as he calls her and so too with others in the house. David also says that the old parents have theirshare of fights, bickering or altercations which were short-lived.
He is also very fond of traditional Mangalorean cuisine and keeps grumbling if the taste is not to his liking. Son Denis, with whom the elderly couple now lives, recalls “I could study only up to 7th standard because of the then prevailing conditions. There was a lot of poverty and the only source of income was from the betal leaf crop and some paddy we used to grow. I remember I used to accompany my parents to the markets in Madanthyar and even to markets as far as Belthangady and Moodbidri. Most of the time we used to go walking the long distances to reach the markets and if we would get money on our produce."
The home and agricultural lands are bordering a forest and Joseph owned a licensed gun. He was fond of hunting and loved fishing too. It also helped in contributing to the food demands of a hard-working large family and the extended family as well in those times. Now the aged couple lives in the rebuilt house with their 7th son Denis and his family (wife and 5 children) who care lovingly. Four of the sons live in the vicinity and their love and care know no bounds, agriculture work is shared as per traditions. Five daughters married and live in nearby areas. They are all the time ready to attend the family home.
Now retired Joseph spends his time reading newspapers, periodicals or watching television and is up-to-date. Cossess is busy attending to her husband’s needs and the children who dote on her, watches television and she also helps in the kitchen. She is also fond of telling stories to her great-grandchildren and sometimes narrates the events of their early life. The entire family is very devout and worship is an important part of the day to day life and life moves positively leaving the matter to GOD. It is exemplary to note the contribution they have made to the Church: Priest and religious in the family are exemplary, one daughter Sr.Rita Lucy Pais FMA, the last 13th one is a Nun. Three granddaughters are Nuns. One grandson is a Carmelite priest and twoother grandsons are in the seminary. One great-grandson is in the seminary too. Joseph's family has two priests, while Cossess' family has three priests and two nuns.
The Lucky 13 : (1) Dulcine Pais - June 1942, (2) Paul Pais -March 1944, (3) Nathalia Pais - March 1946, (4)Late Cecilia Pais - 1948, (5) Helen Pais - April 1950, (6) Mark Pais - April 1952, (7) Mary Pais - May1953, (8) Denis Pais - Nov 1956, (9) Pascal Pais - June. 1958, (10) Alexander Pais- May 1960, (11) John Pais - Jan 1962, (12)Emilia Pais - July 1964, (13) Rita Lucy Pais - June 1966.
The couple is quite healthy, despite their advancing age, except for a few age-related health issues. Cossess is also quite active and even goes to church whenever possible, because of the distance. They live in Punjalkatte, Madanthyar with their son Dennis and his family. The couple has 64 grandchildren and 68 great-grandchildren and many more can be expected. The giant family celebrated the couple's platinum wedding anniversary (75 yrs) in 2015.
All the 12 children of the couple and most of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren were part of the grand platinum wedding jubilee celebrations, held at their residence and jubilee mass was celebrated by 10 priests. The last daughter’s profession as a nun was celebrated on the same occasion, making it a memorable and impressive family celebration.