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“Even as they sat together in a nursing home, six months before Dad died, they were always hand in hand on a sofa reserved for them in the lounge.”


continued from previous page Ruth’s paternal grandparents.


his beloved books, unable to walk and dulled by deep depression. Mum never complained, but nursed him until a series of strokes eroded her comprehension and took away her speech at a relatively young age. Yet even as they sat together in a nursing home, six months before Dad died, they were always hand in hand on a sofa reserved for them in the lounge. Dad knew he hadn’t long to live. He told me he was tired of it all; he couldn’t see his beloved wife and she could no longer speak to him. Nothing was left and he had no reason to continue. Just before he passed away, he called her over to his bed and took her hand for the last time. Whether she understood anything he told her in that final hour, no one will ever know, but he must have died feeling loved, that much is certain. Theirs was a steady, solid, loving union of two very different people who met and remained together despite the misgivings of those around them. Never a dramatic or tumultuous relationship, it simply carried on, loving and respectful for nearly half a century and I feel proud of them both for that. They have taught me always to see the other person’s opinion, take pleasure in their successes and remain interested in their dreams and personal life. Perhaps a happy marriage is less about the dramatic highs and lows we see acted out on our TV screens or proclaimed as normal in magazines. Perhaps their reticence to argue would be seen by a therapist as denial – I saw it as a touching and honourable way to conduct a relationship, rarely endorsed in our self-centred culture of today. They had a simple determination to make it work, an acceptance of one another’s idiosyncrasies and never allowed their idealised view of one another to waver.


I remember thinking in my twenties and thirties that there must be more – something more dramatic, more intense. Now I realise that they held the key to something real and lasting, something romantic and increasingly rare. I found a poem Dad must have written about 20 years ago, the final verse encapsulating the deep


92


SUSSEX LIVING October 2011


www.sussexliving.com





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