Love Lived is a photography project based in the United Kingdom that has been started to explore the theme of love through the stories and portraits of 14 older people.

The aim of the exhibition is to bridge the intergenerational gap through the universal feelings of love. Photographer Holly Wren in partnership with Contact the Elderly is behind Love Lived and the photographic series with each story-teller over the age of 70.

Two of the storytellers Jim and Ernie can be watched in the following videos.

Jim & Maria – Worlds apart, brought together by love

Jim, 95 years old, living in North West London, admits he didn’t know very much about love when he was young and it wasn’t until he got older that he fell in love. Jim met his wife Maria in 1945, during his time serving in the Second World War he admits “it was instant love”. Maria although it was his first love, he knew “it was true love, love at first sight”.

Their first meeting was in Italy when Maria was assigned as Jim’s office hand during his time served in Italy in the army. Although there was a clear language barrier, with Maria only speaking limited english and Jim limited Italian they still had a strong connections. Jim reflects “I don’t know if it was the wine, the moon or just my lovely wife, but I was besotted with her and i found real love. I wanted to be with her all the time, to see her smile, see her laughing, to hear her voice. It was just something out of this world”.

Jim’s face lights up as he thinks back to the early days of courting Maria “she was charming, so beautiful, I married her in three months”, he laughs, with a smile from ear to ear. Married in the heart of Naples, many of their friends and family didn’t instantly approve due to the different culture, language barrier, and the limited time that they knew each other for. “My people, my family wanted me to marry an English girl”. Jim unrelenting in his love did not believe that such thing should get in the way of true love “if you love them, I mean really love them, it doesn’t matter”.

In 1946 post war era they both moved to Jim’s home country of England, this was a big challenge for Maria and found it difficult to integrate into a new culture and lifestyle. Jim did everything he could to help her feel at home, he learned Italian and visited Italian coffee shops allowing Maria to speak her mother tongue.

Maria sadly passed away five year ago after being married for sixty-four years. Their relationship was one of love and constant learning about one another. There is not one day that goes by that Jim does not think about Maria, losing her makes him feel as though apart of him is missing too, after spending a lifetime with someone and when they are gone it feels like your meaning and purpose is gone. Jim’s wisdom shared is “you can’t mistake love, the strong feeling quite simply is unmistakable”.

Ernie & Rita – Life’s prize is love

Ernie, 80 years of age, first learned what love was about from his grandmother, who was a beautiful Hampshire lady, who was so kind that she would give her food ration to Ernie and his mother during the war years. At the time he never realised just how much she would give up just to make sure Ernie was well cared for.

Ernie’s next brush with love was when he met the love of his life Rita after finishing up his time serving in the Army. Rita’s ginger hair was the initial thing that caught his eye, in fact “I think ginger hair is fantastic”. Wanting Rita to notice him, he bought a pair of ice-hockey skates so that he could chase her around the ice rink, until she she agreed to call him.

Although both families didn’t necessarily approve of their relationship, he wasn’t going to let that get in the way. From the moment they met he was determined to make it work and over the years built a solid foundation of love that many people never see in a lifetime. “As you can see we haven’t got a lot but what we have got is, we have each other”. Without Rita by Ernie’s side he has no interest in great riches, as Rita is everything to him. Ernie’s wisdom shared is “there would be no point in having possessions unless Rita is their to share it”.

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