Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 18 July 2015

IT'S MARRIAGE - BUT IS IT ROMANCE? By Linda Mitchelmore

Today would have been my parents' 70th Wedding Anniversary, had they lived. They married in 1945 and I remember, as a thirteen-year-old (or thereabouts) asking my mother why she had married my father. I had never seen them kiss, or hold hands. Out walking, my mother (like the Queen) was always a few steps ahead of my father. My mother could be very snippy - sharp even. She rarely smiled and there was always a sadness around her somehow. My father, on the other hand, was gentle and laid-back - almost comatose at times - and full of jokes and funny phrases; one of of his favourites, when I got back home from wherever I'd been, was 'Hello, love. How's your bum for spots?'. If my mother was giving him grief about something he would listen for a while then put up a hand and say, with a beaming smile,'Shut up, love, and give us a kiss.' My mother would say, 'Oh, you!' and whatever it was she'd been on about was forgotten. It was hard for me - deep into my Georgette Heyer reading period - to see how there could ever have been romance, of the fast-beating hearts and flowers variety, between them. So, what answer did I get to my question? 'We'd been through a war and there weren't many men around. And your dad was handsome. And besides, he bought the material for my wedding dress in Italy in the middle of a war before he'd even asked me to marry him, so what else could I have done when he turned up on the doorstep with it?' I like to think that was a tongue-in-cheek answer but I can't quite believe it was. I don't remember them ever buying one another a birthday card or a present. For Christmas every year my mother knitted my father a pair of socks in 3ply wool on four needles. My father forked out for a bottle of Chianti in a raffia holder because it reminded him of his time in Italy and that Chianti was the only alcohol that entered the house all year. I've read recently of someone who has found lots of love letters her parents sent to one another, full of longing and love, and romantic writing - all I found was household bills (paid, of course). And yet ... they were a team. My father's last words to me as I left his hospital bedside (not expecting him to die that night) were 'Look after your mum, love.' I did. My mother's last words to me were, 'I'd love to see your dad, just one more time.' And then she, too, was gone. I don't think I've consciously used my parents' lives in any of my novels and yet ... that wedding dress story has had an airing, the funny phrases have seen the light of day again, poignant last words have been written. Thanks for listening. And here they are on their wedding day.

19 comments:

  1. What a lovely post, Linda. I really enjoyed reading it. I'm curious to know if your mum ever read romance novels?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Mary. My mother, to my knowledge, never read a book of any sort although she did take My Weekly regularly. My father was the book reader - mainly Wilbur Smith although he loved Dickens and knew all the plots and the characters. As he left school, aged 14, to work on a farm I was hugely impressedl I remember I asked him to read Middlemarch which I had just read and adored. His comments. 'Well, she didn't use one word where a thousand would do, did she?' But he became a George Eliot fan after that.

      Delete
  2. Very moving. People didn't expect so much of everything and everyone in those days. God bless your Mum and Dad. I hope they found each other again. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, this brought a tear to my eyes, Lesley - thank you so much for popping by to comment.

      Delete
  3. What a truly lovely post, Linda. I think that is one of the most poignant romances I've heard of and I'm sure they meant the world to each other. So much can be said without words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, Rosemary - thank you. The funny thing about this post is that lots of people have been in touch to say the same as you but haven't left messages here - but good to get them by whatever means.... :)

      Delete
  4. Aah, bless! There are many different ways to be in love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooooh, thanks for popping by, Margaret.

      Delete
  5. I loved this story, Linda, thank you so much for sharing. If you haven't written a short about that wedding dress, you jolly well should! And Lesley was right - people didn't expect so much of each other in some ways. My parents were always bickering - just low-level stuff - but they were totally committed to each other and really loved each other too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wrote a long short about that dress for WW a while ago. Fab illustrations went with it, too. Bickeri8ng? Hmm.....thin k jury might be out as to who took the crown for happy bickering - your parents or mine.... :)

      Delete
  6. Oh beautiful Linda. There are all kinds of love and all kinds of ways of expressing it. Which is something we all need to remember as writers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there are, Gill. I did think of doing a comparison piece but in the end just went with how it was. And I still have that wedding dress, wrapped in tissue on a shelf in the wardrobe ... :)

      Delete
  7. What a beautiful tribute to your parents. Inside your post are many romantic signs between your parents. The comment your dad made when your mother gave him grief & her response, was a sign of unconditional love and understanding. Although, you didn't see them kiss, your mum grew to love him dearly. It is evident in her final words. And your father loved her with his whole being.

    Thanks for sharing such a personal romantic tribute.
    Stella

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a wonderful response to my post, Stella - thank you. I find it interesting what you have said about my father loving my mother with his whole being - it's said that one half of a couple loves more than the other and I am sure that is true of my parents. It probably all boils down to our personal character make-up and what came before a couple meets. Again, thank you.,....you are so kind.

      Delete
  8. There's so much more to love than so-called romance and your parents proved it every day in their own ways.Angela Britnell

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They did indeed, Angela Britnell.....which might be why I write romance!

      Delete
  9. My parents were just a little ahead of yours in marrying in 1940, Linda, my Dad too, in uniform (in his case an officer in the RAF.) But like yours they were not in the habit of kissing in front of me (or anyone else for that matter). But, as with yours, they were a team, pulling together in the business they created, and making sure that there was food on the table in those awful, bleak war-time and post-war rationing periods. I think this was the way in those days. They perhaps saved their hearts-and-flowers moments for themselves in the privacy of their room. It would've been unthinkable to them to have been demonstrative in front of others, but they - your parents and my own - obviously loved each other.
    Margaret P

    ReplyDelete