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My Christmas Wedding, Mum and My Husband to Be

Updated on September 22, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Happy ever after? Well almost


Happily ever after?

Hubby and I married on December 23rd, 1972. That means that just before Christmas we will celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary. That statement evokes such a mixture of feelings.

Love, familiarity, age and so much more.

I hope that sharing these experiences with readers 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 often are.

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

Our ever after

Hubby and I met in January 1972 and married just before Christmas 1972 and 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 and as Christmas Eve was a Sunday that year December 23rd was the nearest time to Christmas 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 hospitalized for investigations. Mum was in hospital for around 4 months and a previously undiagnozed thyroid condition was finally treated.

She was discharged 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 a home 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 when 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.

With hindsight Mum should have been seen at a hospital long before this. However 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 to pop to Mum's home at lunch time as he knew she was unwell.

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

As soon as I saw My Mum I knew she had suffered a stroke. Her mouth had dropped down at one side, she was rambling and she could not see.

Hubby had knocked at Mum’s door and after a considerable length of time she 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,p my Dad's funeral.

Mum was hospitalized again and we were told that she would not live.

We were told plainly and simply that she would die within a few days. We moved into a room on the ward and stayed for around two-weeks.

Through all of this I realized 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 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 did so as we were hinting what to do in some way.

Then in November Mum began to weep terribly.

The nurses and the doctors were puzzled.

It was around the time of Remembrance Day in the U.K. and everyone was wearing traditional poppies. As soon as we saw her we knew why. My Dad had died on November 12th.

From then on Mum's treatment was different but 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 among Mum's meagre vocabulary there were still a few swear words. Well there was bloody, bloody, bloody which helped ease her 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.

Now the reception would be in our future home and various relatives contributed. One bought the cake, another the food and so on.

Mum was still in hospital as the big day approached, due to be discharged home on the December 22nd, 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 in hindsight 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.

My young husband was always there for us though.

When we had been married a few years I was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy and he 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.

One October 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 vacation 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 unbelievably lost my mum. At that time she was using a tripod sort of walking stick. We had taken her to town in a taxi and how we lost her in a shop I have no idea.

I was frantic.

However, when we got home she was sat there. In her own way she had somehow 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 money has sometimes been tight, but I would not change my big hearted guy for the world.

How many young men would take on their future mother-in-law in such tough circumstances?

Happy Anniversary my love

© 2009 Ethel Smith


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