"Today I will spend seven hours in Airedale hospital receiving my blood transfusion which I need every three weeks following my six-month cancer treatment period. Given my terminal condition, this regular boost effectively keeps me alive and kicking from month to month. The past week has been a more difficult one for me than usual. My blood count has been down, I've been lacking oxygen and I have been more tired than I normally am and less able to walk. I have this past week felt my age and one of the important things I overlooked was to get my younger sister Eileen and her husband John a wedding anniversary card to celebrate their 51st year of married life together, yesterday.
And yet, despite any medical difficulties of the past year, along with the occasional memory loss that all septuagenarians are prone to, I tell you most truly that I am happier today than I have ever been before with my lot in life.
I was fortunate when I found Sheila four years ago, to find the love of my life in my final years, and more fortunate still, to persuade her to marry me. Knowing her, loving her and being married to her are the best experiences of my life. She enables me to continue to be myself and is without doubt my 'best' and my 'last' love. During these recent years. I have found that old age can bring forth a happiness without care when it is shared with the one you love.
How happier then it must be to wear the 'triple crown' and the find in your 'first' love your 'best' and your 'last' love, as did my sister Eileen. And what nicer saying is there to hear as one approaches their twilight years than the invitation from her husband John,' Grow old with me; the best is yet to come.'
Perfect love may come into one's life by accident, but it stays there on purpose. It only needs to touch you once in order to last a lifetime and once present, there is no need to concern oneself with 'happy endings', as true love has no ending.
My sister Eileen married when I was out in Canada and she was no more than a mere eighteen years old. If my recollection is accurate, I was aboard a plane at the time going through turbulent weather conditions on my way to the USA. I suppose that marriage into old age is akin to flying through a storm. Once aboard there is nothing you can do, but sit back and enjoy the ride.
My mother used to remind me when I was a young man and preparing to go out for the night with some new girlfriend who I was besotted with, that however much I grew to love this girl, she would always come second best. She would look into my eyes as she fashioned my tie into a Windsor knot and say, 'Billy, a man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best and his mother the longest and it is only in your mother's love will you find your first, last and best love!'
Come to think of it, I am reminded of this self evident truth by my sister Eileen who I have frequently turned to for marital advice over the years ( having been twice divorced). Eileen has told me on more than one occasion that she was John's sweetheart before she became his wife, and she only recently confided in me that over the past thirty years of their fifty-one-year-old marriage, she has gradually grown to mother him more and more!
You know, people don't stop pursuing dreams because they grow old. I think it is more likely that they grow old when they stop pursuing dreams! A couple's marriage is as young as their faith in the future and as old as their doubt in the past. Whenever I look at my sister Eileen, I see a woman who has few regrets or any doubt that she married the right man over half a century ago. She impresses as being a person who is now growing old gracefully and is content to leave her youth behind as having been a time well spent. When I look at her husband John, I know I am looking at a good man who has always loved his wife and will stay in love with her until and beyond the grave.
In an age where few vows remain sacrosanct any more and many are often spent before they are truly tested, Eileen and John are a credit to the union of marriage between a man and a woman. As your older brother, I wish you both belated wedding anniversary wishes as I nip out for a few pints to toast your union. I love you both." William Forde: February 2nd, 2015.