93-year-old has hopes of being groom in mass wedding dashed

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Mai Kim Son, 93, and his soul mate, Ly Thi Thu, 66

A 93-year-old man was unable to realize his dream of marrying his ladylove despite applying to join a mass wedding in Ho Chi Minh City last week. 

Mai Kim Son, who lives in Binh Thanh District, said he was eagerly waiting for a phone call from the HCMC center for supporting young workers on the morning of December 12 despite being told his application had come too late.

"Who knew? Perhaps the organizers would reconsider or remember their promise to invite us to the wedding as guests."

But the old man was destined to end 12-12-12 in disappointment.

He had filed his application on November 29, 13 days before the mass wedding.

"We want to have beautiful memories of our last years and want to take photos with young grooms and brides," he said when asked why he insisted on being part of the mass ceremony.

He had also hoped to make a speech on how to be keep happy marriage for a long time.

But Son, who started living with Pham Thi Thu at the beginning of this year, is waiting to register their marriage.

"Many people have badmouthed [us] since she moved in with me. So, I hoped the wedding would be like an official announcement that she is my wife."

His marriage with his first wife lasted 62 years until she passed away last year. They only had an adopted son who is married.

After his wife's death he started to realize "how lonely it was to have no one to take care when sick," and how it was better to be cared for by a wife than a child.

At that time he remembered about Thu, a neighbor when his family lived in Hanoi 15 years ago. So he contacted her and invited her to visit HCMC and him.

Thu, whose husband died more than 20 years ago and whose daughters have settled down with their own families, said upon receiving his phone call earlier this year, she "understood everything" and "volunteered to take care of him."

The old woman cannot hide her shyness when speaking about their love or showing photos of them visiting famous HCMC sites like the Thu Thiem tunnel under the river taken by Son's son.

"It would have been great if we had been able to take aprt in the wedding.'

For Son it the his biggest desire in his last years.

The promise

Son said he had waited for a call from the center also because Huynh Ngo Tinh, its director, told the media they planned to invite him to make a speech on his marriage experience on December 9 and to the wedding as a guest.

Tinh told Thanh Nien they could not do as planned because at the wedding there was not enough time for Son to make a speech.

They felt "sorry" they could not include the old couple in the marriage, but they had decided the list long before Son handed in his application, he said. The deadline for registration had been November 12.  

Vietnam's largest mass wedding featured 120 couples, mainly workers with financial difficulties and disabilities. Each pair had to pay just VND1 million (US$48), with most of the wedding expenses being footed by sponsors.

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