A Chinese couple who have known each other since they were 16 years old have finally tied the knot after being apart for nearly 70 years.
Xu Guizhen and Cao Zhenwei, both 96 years old, were born on the exact same day in 1926. Their fates were intertwined due to the close friendship of their fathers, who started and operated a photo studio together in Weihai, a city in eastern China’s Shandong province. The two families ultimately moved to Shanghai and brought their business with them amid the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. After their relocation, Cao began working at the photo studio alongside Xu’s younger brother.
Cao met Xu at the studio, and they became friends. Xu’s father liked Cao and hoped he would marry his daughter one day, but the boy was already engaged at the time.
The two eventually lived separate lives after Xu’s family moved to another province years later. Xu moved back to Shanghai after getting married, but she kept on moving to other places around China after that.
It was not until 2019 when Cao, already aged 93, serendipitously met Xu’s younger brother at a retired workers’ party in Shanghai. There, the man connected with his old friend and asked about his sister.
Encouraged by Xu’s younger brother, Cao got the woman’s address and number and eventually contacted her.
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Although Xu did not recognize Cao when they first met after being apart for almost 70 years, he said they were both happy after finally seeing each other again.
“She didn’t recognize me at first,” Cao was quoted as telling the Shanghai Morning Post. “We were both very happy to see each other. We were both widowed and she wanted to find a partner. So I told her she can have me. It’s fate for us to meet each other again. Unexpected fate.”
“When I received the phone call, I knew it was [Cao] as soon as I heard his voice,” Xu recalled to China Daily. The woman said her original plan was to meet Cao at a subway station, but she got worried that she might not recognize him.
“But he was very smart. He went to the neighborhood committee first and asked them to call me. When I walked out, I saw him,” Xu shared.
Following their meeting, the two kept in touch by phone and got married in September 2020. Their joyous union was supported by their children, Cao said.
“Although we hadn’t seen each other for nearly 70 years, we still felt very familiar with each other. We are all lonely and want to find a partner. This is fate, which is unexpected,” Cao told China Daily.
The couple decided to live together in a 30-square-meter (323-square-foot) room at the Fortune Care Shanghai Kangtai Nursing Home after Cao learned that Xu’s daughter wanted to move her into a nursing home.
“The nursing home also sent out wedding candies for us. It is our home now and we also don’t want to bother our children. We can take care of each other here,” Xu said.
Zhan Yu, who works at the nursing home, said they feel “very moved” when they see the couple walk together hand-in-hand.
“The wife takes care of the husband more. She is responsible for more detailed things, and the old man has more external activities. He manages the medicine for his wife,” Zhan shared.