It started on Valentine’s Day
My true love story started on Valentine’s Day 29 years ago. It was a Saturday, and love was in the air.
As I stood on a small railway station in the country, I was watching a couple holding hands, and obviously in love. I was feeling lonely, and facing yet another evening sitting at home watching television. Or so I thought.
Little did I know that the true love of my life was shopping with his daughter for some decent clothes to wear for our first date. The previous evening we had chatted on the phone for an hour. We both felt we had a lot in common, and had a lot to talk about. That day I had been out to a long lunch with my lunch bunch friends, where I had enjoyed a glass or three of wine, plus a brandy with my coffee. So my speech was slightly slurred, but apparently that did not put him off!
The phone call was in response to a letter I had written in reply to an advert in the local paper which went something like this:
“Nifty Fifty requires female company for walks and outings, no pubs or clubs. Please write to Box no …”
Divorce, bereavement and bankruptcy
During the previous few years I had been through the worst period of my life. It included divorce, bereavement and bankruptcy. So I was feeling pretty low, which is normal, of course. Actually there hadn’t been very much in my life that may be called ‘normal’ for many years even before that, which had also affected my health. Walking could improve that, and was always an activity that I enjoyed. I loved walking the cliffs by the sea, and in the countryside. But it was getting a bit tedious on my own. And here was someone who fitted the bill. It didn’t look as if he wanted any more than company.
And so on that Saturday evening, Valentine’s night, when the phone rang, it was Tom: Nifty Fifty.
“I was wondering if you’d like to come out for a meal with me tonight?”
After I had said ‘yes, of course I would!’, and picked myself up off the floor, the first thing that came into my head was the classic ‘What shall I wear?’. I remember I selected a red skirt and white top.
How romantic that Tom was actually picking me up in his work van! I didn’t have a car at the time.
He asked me to choose a restaurant, which was the sensible thing to do of course. I decided to go to one that I often frequented with friends, and the proprietor knew me well. We had a lovely evening, and during our meal a lady came into the restaurant selling single red roses. What else could Tom do but buy me one? We laughed about that in the many years to come. We also laughed later on in our relationship about how he said to me that it was good to get his “Glad Rags” out of the wardrobe to go out that evening, when all the time he had only been in town that day to buy them! The things you do to make an impression.
And it all paid off. The next thing we knew I went to his Sail-loft, where he also had a flat in which he lived. I told my daughter that I would be gone for a couple of hours. That was at 2 pm. But we enjoyed one another’s company so much, that it was 9 pm before I got home. He showed me around the business, which was Sail-making, we had a home-cooked meal, and we watched “Darling Buds of May” on the television. Such simple activities, but so enjoyable.
At the end of the evening he dropped me back home, and it was I who took the initiative to kiss him on the cheek.
Falling in love
During the next couple of weeks we fell deeply in love. We walked, laughed, talked, ate with each other, and just knew that we were meant to be together. At the time I was living with my teenage daughter at my house, which I knew I would soon be losing due to bankruptcy. And now I had met the true love of my life, who saw me through those stormy months.
I moved in with him in the July, and we married a year later, in June 1993.
Tom and I were twenty seven years together, twenty six of them married. And we were still in love in June 2018, our Silver Wedding Anniversary (see photo above), when both our families arranged a weekend stay for us in a lovely hotel on Dartmoor, where we had often walked and camped. Then they all joined us on the Saturday evening for a wonderful surprise party.
Only just over twelve months later Tom died suddenly. After a couple of years of steadily declining health, he collapsed in the hospital café after a routine check-up, having just ordered a cream doughnut and latte coffee, his favourite coffee treat. He was rushed to the resuscitation unit, and died an hour later following heart failure. It was a shock for me, and for both our families, but nice for him because he had said many times that he would like to pass in that manner.
A few weeks later both families got together and we had a scattering of ashes ceremony out on Dartmoor (see photo above). He loved it there, and we had discussed and chosen where to scatter his ashes beforehand. We had both stated our wishes clearly in an Advance Statement, which was lodged with a solicitor and the GP, setting out exactly what we wanted in the event of our death. This made life a lot easier for me, and our families, when dealing with the aftermath.
Tom and I had our ups and downs during our marriage. We sold the Loft, and moved to Cornwall for eighteen happy years there. We then moved back to Devon for the remaining eight years, although, of course, we never thought that he would only be there for eight. One of the highlights during that time was the arrival of his baby great grandson. He was so happy to see him (see photo). He was only five months old when Tom died.
Legacy of True Love
Tom left a great legacy, with his wisdom, clarity, kindness and true love. One symbol of that is the rocking horse which you can see in the photo, with his great grandson Haydn, now two, riding it. One of the hobbies that Tom took up when we were in Cornwall was carpentry. He made four of these horses for the children in the family, which have become family heirlooms to be kept and handed down to the next generations. I can just see the twinkle in Tom’s eyes as he sees Haydn on it.
Twinkle on Tom!
I would love to hear your own true love stories. Please share them in the comments below, or contact me here