My Christmas Wedding Anniversary, thinking back to Mum and my Husband to be

Happy ever after? Well almost

Hubby and I married on 23rd December 1972. That means that last week, just before Christmas we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. That statement evokes such a mixture of feelings. Love, familiarity, age and so much more.

I hope that sharing these experiences with you, dear reader, will help you get life and its ups and downs into perspective.

Into all life some rain must fall, so grab the good times, when they come along, in a tight hug. Weddings are about more than the expensive extras, nice as these may be.

With the right person at your side, they are the start of a big adventure, which hopefully will have a happy ending.

Hubby and I met in January 1972 and married just before Christmas 1972. No, I was not pregnant.

We had only known each other a few months when Hubby popped the question and I accepted.

As we made our wedding plans life threw its first spanner in the works.

Of course, with only knowing each other such a short time, we had little money for our wedding. My father had died three years earlier and it was not going to be easy.

Still, we were active members of that hippy generation, who did not really believe in traditional marriages. So, with that in mind a Registry Office wedding was planned. I fancied a Christmas Wedding. Christmas Eve was a Sunday that year and so the the 23rd December was the nearest time to Christmas when we could marry.

Mum booked a wedding reception for us and we began to make a few plans.

By June, that year, Mum's health was not good and so she was hospitalised for investigations. It ended up that Mum was in hospital for around 4 months. A previously undiagnosed thyroid condition was finally treated and she came home in early October looking better than she had for years.

Within a week or so she started to be unwell.

Our caring Doctor, back then, refused to visit and Mum was unable to get to the doctor's surgery. The doctor insisted that her head symptoms were only a cold and he would prescribe medication.

In the end we called an emergency doctor who visited one evening,Mum was complaining that the vision in one of her eyes was impaired and the doctor was genuinely concerned. Without Mum's full medical history though, he was unsure. He left us instructions to demand that the doctor visit the next day or for us to contact the local hospital.

With Mum's blood pressure problems our family doctor should have heard the warning bells loud and clear.

Of course, with hindsight I would have had Mum at the hospital long before this. Howeve,r as an inexperienced 20 year old I went along with the instructions.

I left Mum snoozing in bed the next morning and toddled off to work.

At that time my Hubby, to be, was a window cleaner. As he was his own boss he decided that he would pop to my Mum's home at lunch time, as he knew she was unwell.

By the time he rang me to come home the doctor was finally on the way.

As soon as I saw My Mum I knew she had suffered a stroke. Her mouth was dragged down at one side, she was rambling and she was blind.

Hubby had knocked at the door and, after a considerable length of time, my Mum had opened the door. He later told me that, she was staggering and hanging onto the wall saying she must get up and get ready for Laurie's, my Dad's funeral.

Mum was hospitalised again and we were told that she would not live. We were told plainly and simply that she would die within a few days. Hubby to be and I moved into a room on the ward and stayed for around two weeks.

Through all of this I realised that I was marrying a rock.

Yes, like all of us he does not always get it right, but he has such a good heart.

During our vigil Mum started to have cerebral fits, the first one as we sat at her bedside frightened the life out of us. However, what must my poor Mum have suffered?

Finally the doctors decided to reassess the situation.

They were still adamant though that she could no longer think, as the damage to her brain was so severe. They insisted that, if you asked her to close her eyes, she only diid so as we were hinting what to do, in some way.

Then in November Mum began to cry terribly.

The nurses and the doctors were puzzled. It was around the time of Remembrance Day and everyone was wearing traditional poppies. As soon as we saw her we knew why. My Dad had died on November 12th.

From then onwards Mum's treatment was different. However, she had lost so much when she was ill that she would never be the same again.

She could talk a little, but only random words that came into her head. She could see again but had no coordination, so her love of reading, knitting, TV, baking and the like was gone forever. Mum had always loved horror films. The scarier the better. Now even The Planet Of The Apes on TV terrified her.

Sometimes when she was searching for a word that would not come she would draw the object. She still had a sense of humour and we would all laugh at these attempts. Hubby sat patiently with her as she tried to learn count. It would be one, two, six, three and ten, for example. This was frustrating for all but especially for my Mum.

When people talked down to her, as happened at times, she would pull a face behind their backs. Some of her friends no longer visited as they could not bear to see her in this state. Their words I'm afraid.

Thankfully amongst Mum's meagre vocabulary there were still a few swear words. Well there was bloody, bloody, bloody. It helped the frustration temporarily.My Mum was 55 years old.

We cancelled our wedding reception and made new plans. Mum could not write her name and so finances were difficult. In time she learned to write with her left hand but still could not write her signature. From now on this would be an X.

The reception would be in our new home. Various relatives contributed and one bought the cake, another the food and so on.

Mum was still in hospital as the big day approached. She was due to be discharged home on the 22nd December. My brother was to care for her for a couple of days before we took over.

Then disaster.

My sister-in-law had an accident and there was no-one to care for Mum. The hospital told us that they could cancel Mum's discharge but we felt that was not fair on her. So Mum came home to us the day before we got married.

Having been in hospital so long she could not get warm.

People were popping into our house on and off all day and she was very confused. It probably would have been kinder for her to stay in hospital.

Our wedding day was a lovely crisp cold clear Winter's Day. Mum cried for most of it. Confused and cold she must have been very frightened. We did not have a honeymoon and began our time caring for Mum earlier than planned.

Mum lived three years. She died in the Summer of 1975, aged 58.

She suffered much during that time.

Hubby was always there for us though.

When we had been married a few years I was hospitalised for an emergency appendectomy. Hubby looked after my Mum. Occasionally I would speak to Mum on the phone but she was so confused. She could not understand where I had gone. She would answer my questions with her standard yes, no, don't know, but not always in the right places.

We visited the local fair and Hubby pushed my Mum all the way there, back and around the fair. We came back with a huge amount of prizes, which the kindly stall holders bestowed on Mum, although she never actually won anything.

We had one holiday during that time and Mum went into respite care for two weeks. She missed us and her home, though.

We went Christmas shopping one year and lost my mum. At that time she was using a tripod sort of walking stick. We had taken her to town in a taxi. How we lost her in the shop I have no idea. I was frantic. However, when we got home she was sat there. In her own style she had managed to get a taxi home.

I still miss my Mum all these years later. However, I am thankful that I have had such a great guy all these years. Yes, we argue at times, and sure money is sometimes tight, but I would not change my big hearted guy for the world.

Happy Anniversary my love.

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Comments 17 comments

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks rm. Yes remembering this made me emotional.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

ethel thanks for sharing such a personal story. As for hubby, you had me at the part where he took time from work to go check on her.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks Jen. We girls will always miss our Moms I guess


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware

Happy Belated Anniversary ethel! Very touching remembrance of your mom. Your love is obvious and a pleasure to read about. We share the loss of our mothers but the love always remains in our hearts.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks guys. Frogy he is far too old for you lol


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

ethel smith, what a wonderfully blessed lady you are! And your story is unique in its great compassion, love and sacrifice, from you and your 'rock'. I know the answer is 'No', but just thought I might ask to rent Hubby for a day or so once in a while? :-) Wonderful wishes to you in the new year, with continued blessings!


AllMomNeeds2know profile image

AllMomNeeds2know 6 years ago

Congrats on your 37th anniversary. The most important thing in the world are loving people to support you.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks Hello. I just can't believe it is all those years ago.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Hello, ethel, and a happy anniversity. I think you a very kind and caring person and you both deserve each other. To have a good marriage, these days, is something like one in a million. My Best wishes for the New Year.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

That's good to hear Laura. Don't get me wrong though, my man is no saint but then neither am I lol.


Laura in Denver profile image

Laura in Denver 6 years ago from Aurora

Very cool story. How nice to be able to rely on a husband and so UNLIKE my marriage. Oh, well. I have a nice boyfriend now who HAS been there for me in good times and bad.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks jay. We did not always get it right and I realise now we were very young. Reminiscing though feels as if it was yesterday.


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

What a lovely piece of writing, your mum was so lucky to have you and your hubby. God bless you both


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks KCC. I started thinking about our wedding and the odd memories came flooding back


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas

What a heart-warming story of love and compassion. You definitely have a keeper with this fella. :) Beautiful story, Ethel. Thanks for sharing!


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

I guess we girls always do Peggy. Thanks for your good comments


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Oh Wow! Great tribute to your husband and shows your true character as well, Ethel. Your Mum was so fortunate to have you both caring for her the last 3 years of her life. I know you still miss her.

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