"I recently discovered that two face book friends of mine, Ann and Tom Rhodes of Cleckheaton have been married 49 years and will be celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary on December 17th, next. Tom has a terminal illness like me and has spent the past two years defying the doctors by hanging around when they tell him he should be gone by now. It is my dearest wish that Ann and Tom get to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary together and if any of you out there would like to remember this landmark of theirs, it would please me immensely if you make a mental note of this date in advance, so that you might congratulate the golden couple on their special day.
In times when the marriage contract often starts to fade before the ink has dried, how marvellous an example such a happily married couple like Ann and Tom are. Such loyalty, devotion and dedication towards each other is both rare and enviably.
Like many a married person who has loved and married more than once, I also wanted it to be 'forever' when I married, but it wasn't to be so. So I tried a second time, and that marriage, although happy for the most part of its 28 years, still ended before my heart had given up on it. Twice married and twice divorced to two women who no longer wished to remain married, I withdrew from the marital stakes and determined to grow old, a man of single status.
Then, one November day in 2010, I visited Haworth and took a stroll up Main Street. Having being a published author since 1989, loving literature all my life and being an ardent reader of history, visiting the village of the famous Bronte sisters seemed the perfect way for a man of romantic inclination to leisurely spend the afternoon. As I walked up the cobbled street seeped in history, the women that passed down it seemed to get prettier each time one passed by and looked my way. Then, I saw her. She was sitting alone at a corner table in a restaurant called Gascoignes at the top of Main Street. Without giving my next move a second thought, I found my old legs walking inside Gascoignes and taking up the chair next to the black-haired maiden.
I wasn't aware of it at that precise moment, but having stopped looking for love, I had found it once more, in the corner of a Haworth cafe.
I knew the first moment I saw Haworth that it was heaven on earth. I knew when I first saw Sheila that she was different to other women, even though I wasn't quite sure at the time that she was the woman for me. Since the moment I first left her that afternoon, my legs and heart longed to return to Haworth for a second glance, and since that second glance, my eyes have been fixated. It was nothing tangible that I could touch and say, 'That's it! That's the love I seek,' but more a feeling that told me that all I now saw would be all I ever wanted.
Sheila, I waited for your next spoken word before the sound of your last had left my ears. When you touched my mind, you left an impression to remind me in future years why I fell in love with you. But, it was only when you touched my heart, I knew that I would never forget you. Only through loving you, have I learned what really matters in my life. Indeed, it is only through your love that I can sometimes know a happy selfishness; that nothing else matters except you, me, our dog Lady and Haworth.
I know that we came to each other late in life and can never hope to make the marital milestones of fifty, nay twenty-five years as man and wife; probably not even ten. It would be wonderful were my health to allow us to reach the ten-year milestone and I know that whilst we may not always see eye to eye on all things small in life, as far as those bigger and more significant issues go, we will always be of one mind and heart. It was you who taught me that once two people share the same spiritual dimension, their minds, hearts and souls are forever mated.
The world would be an uglier place without Haworth and my world would be much uglier without you, Sheila. My love for you is infinite, Sheila Forde; nothing else is worth searching for, and all else is a mere illusion of a cobbled dream." William Forde: August 28th, 2016.