Almost every weekday at around 9.30am, the sight of 90-year-old Senior Fang Bo Xin and 89-year old Senior Wang Wen Rong strolling side by side towards the outdoor pavilion near LB AAC @ Tampines 434, where they would join fellow LB seniors in taking part in morning exercises organised by the AAC, paints a blissful picture of happiness.

To say that they have come a long way is an understatement. Affectionately known by LB staff as 爷爷 (ye ye meaning grandpa) and 奶奶 (nai nai meaning grandma), theirs is a marriage that began in China and has spanned over 60 years. Now having taken root in Singapore with their family, the couple continues to spend each day in love and close companionship.

Mr Fang and Mdm Wang join fellow seniors at LB AAC @ Tampines 434 on weekday mornings for exercises.

Mr Fang and Mdm Wang came to know each other in the early 1950s, when they were working in a metals manufacturing factory in Jiangsu. As fate would have it, in a vast workplace of over 1,000 employees, the two were drawn together. “We just chatted and felt we could get along,” Mr Fang says in Mandarin. “It turns out we were from the same hometown, and our fathers were comrades!”

After some time, the pair of lovebirds got married. It was a simple affair, where all they did was register their marriage with the authorities, devoid of any ceremony or celebration. Life as husband and wife was not a bed of roses either, as their jobs were highly demanding. An eight-hour workday did not just end at 6pm. “We were required to stay back after regular hours to evaluate our daily work, and also attended lessons that allow the masses then to be familiar with the political doctrines,” they recall.

Was the giving of gifts a part of Mr Fang’s courtship and marriage? “We were poor back then, and we lived practically. There weren’t flowers to buy. At best, for her birthdays I would make her some noodles,” Mr Fang sheepishly explains.

“No need to say more, there wasn’t a need for gifts!” Mdm Wang interjects, quickly coming to the defence of her husband. It is little exchanges like this that reveal the elderly couple’s oneness in spirit.

When asked if they had any marriage advice to offer younger couples today, Mr Fang’s reply is abounding with wisdom. “It’s not for us to give marriage advice,” he chuckles. “Because our mindsets belong to an older era and cannot be imposed upon the younger generation.” However, the couple does highlight the importance of communication and mutual understanding that they apply in their own relationship. “Sometimes due to work or stress, we may harbour unhappiness within, and this causes friction between us. When this happens we take a step back. If you ‘erupt’, I stay silent, and vice versa. This way our issues get resolved.”

Around 20 years ago, Mr Fang and Mdm Wang both arrived in Singapore to help take care of their grandson, born to their only child who had been living and working here with her husband. Taking up permanent residency, the seniors have since settled well in Tampines. “Singapore is very safe,” Mr Fang says. “Here, the elderly are very well taken care of, and we feel very comfortable”.

Mr Fang and Mdm Wang help with raising donations on LB Flag Day 2023.
Mr Fang & Mdm Wang 2
The couple regularly participate in AAC programmes, constantly keeping themselves moving.

Further integrating themselves into the community, the couple joined LB AAC @ Tampines 434 as members in July 2022, responding to the centre’s outreach flyers that were distributed to their doorsteps by walking in to register. “(The LB staff) asked us if we were willing to become members. Of course we were!” they exclaim.

Today, both seniors are actively involved in the AAC, regularly participating in the centre’s exercise programmes as an avenue to stay healthy. They also make it a point to take leisurely hour-long walks together on a daily basis. “Flowing water doesn’t decay (流水不腐),” Mr Fang quotes a Chinese saying. “It’s the same with the body; it needs constant activity.”

Inadvertently, the idiom also aptly describes Mr Fang and Mdm Wang’s marriage, for like flowing water, their love for each other is renewed every day.

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