Today would’ve been my mum and dad’s 58th wedding anniversary; the first since he passed ten days after last year’s commemoration of the same event.
It was a time he was so poorly the old man was unable to write his message of endearment in my mother’s card. Necessitated me penning the words of affection, which he relayed to me in his failing Yorkshire tones.
My writing isn’t as neat as pater’s was, but it mattered not to him as his loving, but somewhat self-conscious, sentiments reached his much loved wife. The lady who he’d first met in a Leeds tavern in 1958. A meeting of two unassuming and capable people who always judged existential situations, along with acquaintances, from a baseline of positivity.
A marriage spanning six decades, five grandkids, four different dentists, three offspring, two house moves and a pear tree….. They were unable to source a partridge for the pear tree after failing the stringent adoption procedures, which included a necessity to speak fluent Welsh.
This time last year, in the final days of his life, I asked my dad if he’d any regrets during the 57 years he’d been married to my mum. He responded “Only that I didn’t learn to speak Welsh…. I’d have loved to adopt a partridge!”
As I was now his scribe, I can’t deny I was relieved at him not dictating his thoughts and sentiments in Welsh. Words without vowels ordinarily bring me out in a rash.
I’ve just spoke to my mum on the phone, who’s understandably shed a tear or two over the fact it’s her first wedding anniversary without her beloved husband. Her sadness exacerbated by guilt at her actually being able to speak Welsh all along. Something it materialises she kept secret from my old man because “I didn’t want a bloody partridge!”
Seriously, though, it was clearly going to be a melancholic day for Maggie. Of the numerous triggers bringing forth her sadness at my dad’s loss, the anniversary of walking down the aisle of a Leeds church with him was always going to be the hardest.
I’m no longer planning to visit her East Ardsley residence today. My plan to take her to see my old man’s leaf on the ‘Tree of Life’ at Wakefield Hospice, being postponed as Magster*** (as the people who call her Magster know her) wants a day of quiet reflection. Consequently, she’s going to sit silently in front of the mirror with a copy of ‘Cymru Speakers Monthly’ magazine.
*** – No one calls her Magster. I just made it up so I could write this addendum to pad out the narrative. An old writer’s (or indeed young/middle aged writer’s) trick when experiencing a paucity of ideas.
In ten days time, the first anniversary of her husband’s passing, will be another tough day for the old lady. Hopefully we, her offspring, can be there for Maggie on that occasion. A time when we’ll need to muster all our supportive energies in her direction, including cheering her up with a game of Scrabble. A board game where her knowledge of Welsh words means she generally wins comfortably.
I don’t know if you can see this, dad. But if you can, after you’ve stopped shaking your head in despair at my silliness which you so disapproved of, can I please have your forwarding address for the anniversary card.