“We met at a party at his parents’ home in Roodepoort [Gauteng] in 1994. We danced and really hit it off. Tommy really liked me and asked if we could go steady. We dated for about four months but then I had to leave to start my nursing training,” Sonet says.
Though they had no contact for years, their lives followed similar trajectories. Both got married for the first time in 1996 and their first and second children were born in the same years.
Both found themselves alone in the same year.
“Every now and again I’d wonder what had become of Tommy. Whenever I drove through Roodepoort I’d think of him but I couldn’t remember where his parents’ home was,” Sonet says.
Tommy’s second wife died of cancer in 2015 while at the same time, Sonet’s second marriage ended in divorce. Then, late in 2016, she received a message on Facebook that set her heart aflutter.
Tommy says he kept asking Sonet to go for coffee. “As first she wasn’t interested. Her last marriage had been too painful. But then I bought one of her CDs and sent her proof of payment – so she had to deliver the CD to me,” Tommy says.
Sonet, who’s worked in marketing for years, is also a DJ and singer.
“At first I was very wary. I was so scared Tommy wasn’t being sincere. But after a few months my two kids [then 16 and 19] and I moved in with him in the very house where we met all those years ago,” Sonet tells YOU.
Sonet and Tommy, now 46 and 45 respectively, got married in November last year.
“It was a small wedding and Tommy played a prank on the guests. When I walked in, he left by the back entrance of the chapel – but then he came back with a fishing rod and pretended to be reeling me in.”
Sonet wrote and sang a song especially for Tommy at the wedding.
“My kids are crazy about Tommy. His children live with their mother and we respect each other. My children say he’s the man God sent me,” Sonet gushes.
But neither of them have any regrets that they only reconnected after so many years.
“Both of us had our own journeys to complete. We learned lessons along the way and we came out the other side as better people,” Tommy reckons.
Sonet agrees. “I don’t know a better man than him. He’s just so caring. I’ll say I’m cold, then he’ll fetch me my gown. I love this man very much,” she says.
Tommy says it’s Sonet’s loving nature that makes him love her so much. “She can’t walk past someone who’s struggling. If she can’t give something, she’ll speak words of encouragement.
“I always wondered what had become of Sonet Pienaar. I think I’d always been crazy about her – and then we found each other again.”
Earlier this year, the couple started their own business, Tonet Consulting, which specialises in conceptualising and shooting advertisements.
While YOU is speaking to them on the phone, Sonet, Tommy and his dad, Piet Shield, are sitting on the porch of the Roodepoort home where the couple met all those years ago. Piet has been living in a flat on the property since his wife, Emma, died a while ago.
“It’s fitting that we’re living here now. It’s our love nest with years of memories – but also new memories that we’re making now,” Sonet says.