Editor’s note: This post has been amended to reflect the correct attribution of the documentary.
Love may not be eternal, but it certainly can last a long time. Eighty years, in fact. Ashraf and Mohammed Mohyeddin are a centenarian couple (she is 100, he is 110) who have been married for 80 years, and they have tips for others looking to replicate their longevity in life and love.
The subject of a digital documentary offered by CBC Short Docs, 100 and Counting is the story of Ashraf and Mohammed, who lived in Iran for 70 years before immigrating to Canada to escape an increasingly oppressive fundamentalist regime. To date, their brood counts eight children, 20 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, and throughout it all, they have maintained a sense of levity.
“You have to laugh at life,” Ashraf says, even as she admits that for years she “couldn’t even look at his ugly face.”
WATCH: Ashraf and Mohammed Mohyeddin share their views on love, life and chewing your food.
Mohammed’s early experiences in the army left him a supremely regimented man. His granddaughter, Samira, who appears in the doc and translates for her grandparents, recalls how he used to wake all the grandchildren for breakfast at precisely 6:30 a.m. His biggest piece of advice to the kids: chew your food.
“Food should be liquified in the mouth and then go into the stomach,” he says. “Your stomach doesn’t have teeth.”
Mohammed’s rigidness extends to other meals, too — he must have a piece of fruit every day at 11 a.m., Samira explains.
In a clip that shows the couple seated on the couch in their spacious Toronto home, Mohammed notes that he hasn’t had his fruit yet. To which Ashraf quips: “Don’t act like you have a bunch of maids running around here.”
They gently jeer at each other in a way that is undoubtedly expected after 80 years of marriage — he teases her about not being as agile as him despite their age gap, and she quickly silences him by pointing out that she has borne eight children in her life — but they agree that marrying wisely is one of life’s most important goals.
When Mohammed espouses a belief that’s indicative of his age and upbringing, saying that as long as a man has enough money he can marry, his wife responds with a stern, “No!”
“Income is not enough to make a life,” Ashraf says. “Attitude is everything in life.”
The documentary closes on a celebration for Mohammed’s 110th birthday. Surrounded by a spattering of family members, Ashraf, clothed in a leopard print dress, and Mohammed, in a bow tie and vest, seal the celebration with a kiss.
Sadly, Ashraf passed away in December 2016.
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