Dear Readers, on 21st September 2017, Mum and Dad had their 60th Wedding Anniversary party. Thirteen months later, Mum and Dad were both in a nursing home, and Mum died in December 2018. Dad died on 31st March this year, and on Saturday I will be travelling to Dorset to inter Dad’s ashes, finally, with Mum.
I am so glad that we had the party for Mum and Dad, and that they were both well enough to attend. For those of you who were reading the blog a few years ago, you might remember that by that point Mum and Dad were in and out of hospital with chest infections, urinary tract infections and cellulitis. At one point it was like one of those Swiss clocks where the lady comes out and the gentleman goes in. But for that one day, they were both in their element. Mum sat in her wheelchair and received all her visitors, and Dad got through his speech, even though he didn’t have the right glasses and forgot what he was talking about halfway through. Thinking about it now, his dementia was already beginning to show itself: at a party to celebrate their 50th anniversary he’d been able to deliver a witty speech off the cuff.
It is very poignant to me that, when he was in the home, Dad would often get up at dinnertime to thank people for coming. The last time that I saw him when he was still relatively healthy was when there was a ‘Spanish lunch’ at the nursing home, and he asked me if I thought he should make a speech. He was always a very gracious man, and he did love a big party.
Mum and Dad got anniversary greetings from the Queen as well, which made Mum’s day. Our local friend Eva made a pair of matching cakes. All the flowers on top are in sugar work.
But what made it all worthwhile was that at the end of it, Mum said that it was the best evening of her life, and that she’d enjoyed it more than she enjoyed her wedding. That really is something for me to cling on to when I think about the utterly miserable last year of her life, when she was in and out of hospital and in constant pain. She had a long life, and she was mostly happy. Gradually those tough times are fading in my mind, and I am remembering her and Dad’s lives as a whole, all those good times as well as the bad ones.
So, today I will be on the train heading up to Dorchester for the first time since Dad died. I am dreading it, and also looking forward to going back to the same guest house, walking the same streets. The nursing home is still in lockdown, quite rightly, but I’m hoping to pick up a few of Dad’s photos and personal effects. And on Saturday we will be in the churchyard at St Andrews Church in Milborne St Andrew, putting Dad’s ashes to rest with Mums under the cherry tree. We will have to wait till the spring to see if we can have a proper Thanksgiving service for Dad, but in these difficult times I’m glad of anything that I can get in the way of remembrance.