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Julio César Mora, de 110 años, y su esposa Waldrimina de 104. Photo: AP/Dolores Ochoa.
Julio César Mora is 110 years old, and his wife, Waldramina is 104. Photo: AP/Dolores Ochoa.

What is the secret of love, according to the world's longest living couple

The Moras have broken a Guinness Record: they were married in 1941 and between them, they are 215 years old. The course of time has done nothing but strengthen…

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Julio Mora likes watching TV and drinking milk; his wife Wadramina enjoys desserts and reading the newspaper in the mornings. Their life is made up of small, daily rituals, some of which they have been repeating for 79 years, since 1941 when they "secretly" told each other 'yes' and were married. 

However, in mid-August, exceptional news interrupted their peaceful daily life as COVID-19 had done before: the retired teachers in Quito, Ecuador received a Guinness Record certification recognizing the pair as the longest-living couple in the world.

Waldramina will be 105 years old on Oct. 16, Julio will blow out 111 candles on a cake on March 10. Between the two of them, they have more than two centuries of life. 

The most meritorious thing is not their age — even if they have genetics that breed longevity — but that they continue kissing and remembering as two youngsters the day when Julio saw Waldramina for the first time and was sure that he was going to spend the rest of his very long life with her. 

"When Julio César met me, he says that when he saw me, I had arrived with my father, he was looking on secretly and that he promised himself that I would be his wife", said Waldrimina, who had gone to visit her sister and destiny had Julio live in the same building, and also a cousin of the one who would end up being his brother-in-law.

Then came the time to capture her love. The young man, who was quite a good writer, sent her poems and was very affectionate with her. What made Julio fall in love with Waldramina was her firmness, the love she put into everything she did and her unique beauty. 

As their family did not like them to be engaged, they kept their relationship a secret and one cold day in February 1941, they married furtively in the "Iglesia El Belén," the oldest church in Quito.

What united them was not going to be broken by anything, not even the passage of time. Now, with more than a century in their rings, they are parents of five children — one of them has died — grandparents of 11 grandchildren, and have 21 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great-grandchildren. 

The secret of love

The Moras don't know anything about the new liquid love, the terror that intimacy produces in us or the idea that people can have infinite partners throughout their lives, that our flirtations begin with a 'match' and continue with a virtual date and a relationship as long as it takes to drink a Bloody Mary. 

They are a marriage of the "long before." Their relationship, said Waldramina, the horizon shining in her eyes, is based on patience and respect.

"He was very fond of me, and whatever situation there was, he would fix it in a few hours, explaining why it happened, and then everything would be fine," she said. 

Her husband taught her children to dance — "he danced very beautifully," she said. She was a little more severe than Julio, only observing their dances and raising the children as sincere and disciplined people.  

"I didn't conceive the lie, but always the truth and it is that path I want my children to follow, also helping anyone who needs it", she added. 

They also did other activities with their kids, like going to the theater, to the movies, meeting with relatives or growing plants to share the harvest with friends and family, which was one of the things that her daughter Cecilia liked the most, as she explained to the Guinness organizers. 

It was Andrés, one of the grandchildren, who thought at the beginning of the year that his grandparents could be among the longest living couples in the world, and sent the documents that proved it. 

Soon after came the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. The Moras, accustomed to being surrounded by their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-grandchildren, had to take refuge in the house with their little rituals and love as a way to stay afloat. 

"For a month now they have been different," admitted Cecilia, for whom her parents are still active, but without the agility of the past. "[They look] more down because they miss the big family gatherings. Since March, we haven't had anything like that. My parents lack the family contact."

The sadness for the lack of visits in a home whose family tree is enormous and with many of its roots are still alive, is especially noticeable in Julio, who eats little, less and less, and his children have begun to liquefy his food. 

But Cecilia has learned a lot from her parents, she said. She has a clear answer to the question that many couples ask their therapists, the question that friends ask each other in the bars: Why don't couples last anymore? What doesn't work with me?

The secret to her marriage is "discipline, understanding, maturity, and lots of love."

Are we still prone to that? 

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