Auckland woman Christine Brock is the ultimate late starter. Arriving into the world three weeks after her due date seems to have set the tone for her life – she didn’t learn to drive until she was 48, so it’s no surprise that she walked down the aisle at 58.
At 40, Christine had pretty much given up any hope of having children or finding love.
But 11 years later, eight months after having a mastectomy for breast cancer, Fred Brock (61) changed her life.
The idea of meeting someone had been the furthest thing from Christine’s mind. Even her efforts online had been unsuccessful.
Around the time she decided to take her profile off the NZDating website, she discovered a message from Fred, who she’d previously contacted.
“When you get to a certain age, you don’t go to pubs and things because most of your friends are married. When I was 40 there were no internet dating sites,” she says.
“But internet dating has changed lives. Fred wasn’t going to go on it, but his friends persuaded him because he’d been on his own for three years.”
The pair chatted via email for six weeks before they met in person, and during that time Christine found the courage to tell Fred about her surgery.
“I didn’t think I would meet anyone after my mastectomy,” Christine confides. “When I got breast cancer, I felt it would have been nice to have someone.
People said I was so brave, but I wasn’t. I was a mess at night by myself.
“I had wonderful friends who supported me, and the support of breast cancer groups, but it’s not the same as the support of a partner. It’s nice to have someone to come home to.”
Christine and Fred, who owns a taxi, have been together ever since they first set eyes on each other, but Christine never expected they would get married.
So when Fred popped the question seven years into their relationship, his proposal came out of the blue.
“I have something I want to tell you,” he told Christine during a trip to Wellington.
Christine’s heart sank, fearing that Fred had been keeping a health problem from her.
“I thought it was going to be bad news,” she says.
“But he said, ‘You know I love you – will you marry me?’
“What kind of question is that? Of course I will!” a delighted Christine exclaimed.
Nearly a year later, 62 friends and family celebrated their wedding in an emotional ceremony at Ferndale House in Mt Albert, Auckland, which her family dubbed the ”royal wedding”.
There were plenty of tears, but also hilarity when Christine vowed not to laugh at Fred’s lists, and Fred vowed not to nag Christine about stacking the dishwasher.
Christine departed from some bridal traditions on her big day, deciding on a dusky pink gown instead of white. She also opted against another ceremony staple.
“I was too old for bridesmaids and white has never looked good on me. I nursed years ago, so I wanted to get away from white,” she explains.
But she did want to honour her late parents on the day by wearing her mother’s pearls, and had sewn an oval locket with photos of them into her bra.
Not having children will always be Christine’s biggest regret, but with Fred – who has two children from his first marriage – by her side, she’s found happiness.
Weekly columnist Kerre McIvor has always been an inspiration to Christine. When Kerre married for the first time at 48, Christine wrote to the Weekly to congratulate her after she graced the cover in February.
“She looked gorgeous and was 48. Here am I, 58,” Christine smiles.
When Christine was 26, she visited a clairvoyant who predicted she would find love later than most women, but didn’t believe her.
“That’s been true,” she says. “I didn’t drive until I was 48 and I was three weeks late coming into the world.”
Much to the shock of some of her friends, Christine, who works for Dulux Powder Coatings, has decided to change her last name to Brock.
“I don’t feel different, but it’s strange being called by my married name. It will take some getting used to.”
Photos: Nicola Nicholson