‘Love doesn’t belong to the young’: Retired doctor and nurse prove romance has no age limit

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By Simon Royal


April 08, 2018 18:38:10

Video: Phil Harding and Margie Mickan worked in the same building for years but never met until an ABC interview

(ABC News)
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Margie Mickan and Dr Philip Harding took a tour of the old RAH before it closed. (Supplied)
“We both believe this [marriage] is the right way for our relationship, it’s the only sort of relationship either of us has had in the past … and we wanted to say publicly that we are committed to this relationship and one another.”The newly minted Margie Harding put it this way: “I think in a way you have to say, love doesn’t only belong to the young.””Our story is really about hope, it’s a very important thing, it’s related to justice and happiness, and after all, isn’t that what we all want?” I hadn’t expected it, but I think our older friends have been more excited than the younger ones … who’ve tended a bit more to ask, ‘Why bother at your age?'”We’ve heard a bit of that. On March 17, the pair tied the knot in Adelaide’s St John’s Anglican Church — truly a whirlwind romance.It’s not the first time either Dr Harding or Ms Mickan have walked down the aisle. Both of them have lost spouses to the scourge of cancer. Photo:
The couple hope others will see them as a “model of positive ageing”. (Supplied)
Between them they have 153 years of life experience though, ever the gentleman, Dr Harding adds that his wife makes a slightly larger contribution to the equation than he does.The tiny age difference has been a source of delight to their families.”My granddaughter sent me an email and said I’m so proud to have a grandmother who is a cougar,” Ms Mickan said.”I said to Philip, ‘What’s a cougar?’ He went and looked it up and said ‘It’s a woman who dates younger men … would you like me to print off a form so you can join the club?!'”But there is much more to the couple’s story than simply a pair of wise-cracking former medicos who have found love.Phil and Margie’s decision to marry holds a mirror up, inviting us to reflect on our assumptions about how older people should lead their lives.”We hope people see us as a model of positive ageing,” Dr Harding said.”Most people have been very supportive and excited about our marriage. (ABC News: Simon Royal)
Dr Harding went on to become head of endocrinology at the RAH, while Margie became Matron Mickan of the Memorial Hospital.More than half a century later, as they wandered through the near empty wards reminiscing, it was clear they’d finally hit it off — laughing at one another’s stories, finishing one another’s sentences.Once the interview was over, the pair went to a nearby cafe for a restorative cup of tea and a more relaxed chat. It’s not every day true love comes along.It’s even rarer to find that special person thanks to the ABC.But that’s exactly what happened recently to retired doctor Phil Harding, 76, and retired matron Margie Mickan, 77.”This was a chance event really that brought us together,” Dr Harding reflected.”I think people’s lives are driven by chance events far more than they realise.”Last September, as the old Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) was in its final weeks, ABC TV asked the pair to speak about what working there was like in the good old days.They’d started their careers at the RAH in the late 1950s and early 1960s.Funnily enough, back in the day, their paths hadn’t crossed. The interview that led to love It’s a pity the ABC charter doesn’t mention running an introduction service, writes journalist Simon Royal. Photo:
The couple married after the ABC helped bring them together. A few pots of tea, and quite a bit of time later, Dr Harding leant forward and said to Ms Mickan: “This is going to be a significant friendship, isn’t it?”Ms Mickan replied, “Yes, it is.”That was a mere six months ago.