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Man, 48, says he’s deeply in love with his grandfather’s 103-year-old widow

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A 48-year-old lawyer claims he is in love with his 103-year-old girlfriend, despite sceptics thinking their love isn’t real.

Mart Soeson, from Estonia,  has been in a relationship with Elfriede Riit, 103, since 2013 and the couple lived together until she was forced to move into a nursing home in 2022. 

Now, Soeson is pleading to stay in Australia to be with his older girlfriend.

Ms Riit, who was also born in Estonia, is the widow of Mr Soeson’s grandfather. She was his second wife and will celebrate her 104th birthday later in February

Despite the fact that Ms Riit was married to his grandfather, Mr Soeson insists he is in love with her. The couple insists their 55-year age gap is irrelevant and they should be allowed to continue their “exclusive committed long-term” romance for whatever time Ms Riit has left to live. “What started out as a wholesome bond I had with my late grandfather’s widow slowly but surely turned into a very meaningful and loving relationship,” Mr Soeson told DailyMail in an exclusive interview.  

Man, 48, says he

 Mr Soeson is seeking to gain permanent Australian residency on the basis that Ms Riit is his partner but his visa application has been refused. He was not formally told why that visa application was rejected but believed the Department of Home Affairs was suspicious about the legitimacy of his union with Ms Riit.

Yes, I know we have the age gap,” Mr Soeson told Daily Mail Australia.

“And I know it’s an issue for some people.

“But generally, age gap is an issue in case of older woman and younger man. It’s never an issue in case of older man and young woman but I’m not able to change that attitude.”

Mr Soeson has now taken his case to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which he attended on Wednesday, Jan. 31, with Ms Riit and three supporters to have the matter heard.

That hearing did not go ahead at the tribunal’s Sydney office because Ms Riit, who Mr Soeson had carried from a Maxi Cab to a wheelchair, was too distressed to take part in the proceedings.

Man, 48, says he

Mr Soeson described meeting Ms Riit in early 1996 when he came to Australia to study advanced English.

Ms Riit knew of Mr Soeson as her late husband Alfred’s grandson and invited him to stay at her home at Bankstown in Sydney’s south-west.

It was not love at first sight and “nothing happened overnight,” according to Mr Soeson, but the pair soon became friends and that connection grew.  

Mr Soeson returned to Estonia but came back to Australia on holidays in 2000 and 2007 to see Ms Riit, for whom by then he “cared greatly” and “missed immensely”.

“During these two trips my bond with Elfriede grew stronger, and when I returned to Estonia I felt a sense of longing for Elfriede’s companionship,” his statement said.

“I enjoyed my visits immensely and seeing her made me feel much more fulfilled and happier in my life.

“Upon returning from my trip to Austria in 2007 I could not shake the feeling that I was missing something in my life and that something was Elfriede.”

Mr Soeson took annual leave to make further trips to Sydney in 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 for the sole purpose of seeing Ms Riit.

During that last visit the pair recognised their feelings for each other had deepened and moved beyond friendship.

Man, 48, says he

“Having spent the last five holiday season together the relationship between Elfriede and I had become extremely close,” Mr Soeson’s statement said.

“Elfriede was completely in love with me and I was feeling the same way about her.”

Mr Soeson said Ms Riit showed her love for him by spending more time in the kitchen cooking his favourite dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“Elfriede and I also became physically closer, and she constantly hugged me and paid attention to me in ways that she hadn’t before,” he said.

Mr Soeson considered his romantic relationship with Ms Riit to have commenced in January 2013 when she was 92 and he was 37.

“Elfriede felt very lonely and helpless before we met,” he said in his statement.

“I brought the joy, happiness and security for her life since we started to share our life together.”

Mr Soeson first applied for permanent residency in March 2016, was granted a temporary visa in July 2017 but his permanent (partner) visa was refused just before Christmas in 2018.

He hoped the tribunal would accept he was in a “genuine de facto relationship” with Ms Riit and allow him to stay in Australia.

“Love doesn’t ask the age,” he told Daily Mail Australia. “We have still strong relationship. We want to stay together as she hasn’t decades left.”

Mr Soeson regularly visits Ms Riit at her nursing home where he brings her favourite foods: chocolate, berries and other fruits.

They attend concerts, chapel services, watch television together, go out to have coffee with friends and visit medical specialists.  Mr Soeson changes Ms Riit’s hearing aid batteries and supplies her with medicine.

Man, 48, says he

Mr Soeson said the couple had no plans to marry and Ms Riit, who doesn’t have any children, wasn’t interested in another wedding.

Mr Soeson’s appeal will return to the AAT on a date to be set.

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