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Anniversary Stoicism

It’s 1st of October, the final quarter of 2019’s. A date that’s the anniversary of a few major life events that’ve touched my existence. Included among those episodes are the wedding anniversary of my parents, the date I commenced in full-time employment and being Best Man of a good friend from the north east of England.

On this day in 1960 my mother and father walked down the aisle of a north Leeds church. Subsequently, if cancer hadn’t come calling for my dad two years ago, today would’ve been his and my mothers 59th wedding anniversary.

I wasn’t there, however I’m reliably informed it was during the reception my mum invented the verb ‘to alecart it’ to describe the excessive inebriation of wedding guests. The full verb I believes is:- ‘I alecart it’; ‘You alecart it’; ‘He alecarts it’; ‘She alecarts it’ …… etc, etc.

Not a verb adopted by the Oxford English Dictionary, however that hasn’t stopped the Strachan family (well, my mum) from occasionally turning to the phrase when the need’s arisen.


The wedding itself was a lavish occasion, where no expense was spared. This frivolousness going as far as my mum and dad paying for a signing specialist to translate the service for deaf guests. A worthy gesture if there’d been any deaf people amongst the congregation, however as there wasn’t I can’t help feel it was a foolish extravagance.

I’ve as much humanity as the next person, unless of course the next person has no humanity whatsoever. However, regardless of how well-meaning the motive, I find unnecessary lavishness to be distasteful.

My parents other ridiculous wedding day wastefulness including spending good money on entertainment for flamingo dancers….. No, that isn’t a typo on my part, I don’t mean flamenco. They’d half a dozen flamingos shipped in to entertain revellers (or those alecarting it, as my mother may say) with 20 minutes Argentine tangoing.

Neither of my parents were from wealthy families, consequently I’m unsure where they got all the money to facility such lavishness on that day 59 years ago. My dad worked as a sheepskin classer at the time for Northern Butchers Hide & Skin Co and my mum in the accounts department of Schofields department store. Both work places in Leeds where they were born and raised.

Following that October day in the first year of a new decade, the 1960’s saw a series of major changes for my mother and father. The first of which mum’s mother passing in her mid-40’s with breast cancer 2-3 months after they wed.

A few years later I was born, followed by my brother Ian 25 months later. They uprooted from their Leeds families (apart from me and Ian obviously) to move to Gateshead in 1966; a real big deal at the time when homes with telephones were a rarity, making ease of communicating with distant family onerous.

I’m at my mother’s residence today, making her anniversary dinner instead of my old man, who passed 10 days after their 57th wedding anniversary. The pairs almost three score years tenure at each others side providing robust foundations, underpinning the family dynamic. His loss, though, ageing her quite significantly in both appearance and confidence.

In her dotage I try assist where possible, which as she can be quite high maintenance at times isn’t without it’s dents in my spirits. The recent purchase of a TV and, despite repeated tutoring, the failure of this capable woman to grasp even the very basics of its operation a perfect example of Maggie’s diminishing self-assurance. This lack of certainty evident in the vulnerability exhibited by her body language.

One thing is for sure, though, the old lady will never dehydrate. I’ve never know anyone drink as much tea as mater; keeping her in cups of tea alone a full time job for yours truly. Beverages made from tea bags infused with M&S’ best char.

Today must’ve been a tough day for my mother. Thankfully, though, she rode through it without being moved to tears, or outward emotion at the significance 1st October has had since that day in 1960.

I was proud of Maggie for today’s stoicism. Hopefully soon her habitual asking of how to change channels on the new telly will abate and calmness can once again return to chez Strachan senior.

3 replies »

  1. I like your blog today a lot, Gary! Yes, October has a special significance for me as well, as I first came into this world on October 5th, 1935. My life has been a potpourri of many events, and the phrase ” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” comes to mind, and this a pretty good description of my life! However, I must say that I have never been bored of had any lack of something to do, at all! I have had to reinvent myself several times as jobs and work tend to have a somewhere around a 5 year lifetime, then being a will O the wisp and disappearing with bothersome regularity! That factor all by itself will prevent boredom with life’s events! I do understand mankind’s given scourge of cancer, and my hope is that someday a complete cure will be found for this dread illness. I am one of the lucky ones, for yes, I am a survivor of this dread disease. If anyone ever asks you if you want to experience this, I recommend a hearty answer of ” Hell, NO!!” And now, back to more pleasant subjects! I believe that you are a good son, my friend, and I am pleased to see that you take care of your Mum. I was not to be so fortunate, as my Mum had my baby sister two years after I was born, and in that process she acquired what was referred to as ” Childbirth Fever” in those long ago years. This amounted to a infection that turned into blood poisoning and was thus a death sentence in those years., and the average life span once acquired was just a short 10 days.
    Our good Scotsman Alexander Fleming had already discovered Penicillin, but this wonder drug of healing did not become wide spread and available until around 1940, and my Mum passed away exactly 10 days after my baby sis was born! That was just how thing were in those years and the luck of the draw! A few dollars worth of Penicillin would have given me a MuM! This coming October 5th I will celebrate my 84th birthday, God willing! All my immediate family had departed this earth, and I have attended each one’s interment. My Mother passed in 1937, my father in 1951, the year I was 15 years old, My brother in 1964, and my sister 2 years ago. Thus I am the last of my immediate family and the Patriarch of my family by default! I have my immediate family to love and that is sufficient! Have a good day, Gary, my friend, and be safe and satisfied!


    • Your fortune has been exceedingly capricious, my friend…. I trust you have a great 84th birthday, Phil!! …. I’ll be on the North American continent on Saturday as I’m visiting friends in Canada….. god bless!


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