Fifty years ago this very day, my darling Little Sister Maggie married her Barrie, the love of her life. Like me when I met Mr B, she was very young when she made his acquaintance - but then we sisters always did know
our own minds, young as we were.
I remember such a lot about their special day. I remember (at least some of) the lines of the poem I wrote her to mark the momentous
occasion. I remember the sun shone but gusts of wind kept taking her veil and blowing it upwards in a frothy cloud - as Matron of Honour, my main task seemed to be continuously trying, in vain, to rescue it and hold it in place. I remember our dear Mum’s
splendid hat and our proud Dad insisting on shepherding the wedding party into the smart black limousines waiting outside the church to transport us to the wedding reception. I remember Barrie’s affectionate pat on his new wife’s bottom as they
entered the hall where the meal was set out - his cheeky, loving gesture captured for all time on the cine-film of the occasion. Such a perfect day, full of love and laughter.
Ah, yes, the cine-film. Every time we have watched it over the years - translated first into VHS tape and, more recently (thanks to our granddaughter Katie and her fella) onto a DVD and memory stick - we always find ourselves making the same comments.
“There’s Aunt Emm!” we tell each other, unnecessarily. Every single time. Maybe it’s the film that has helped to keep the memories so bright?
My one and only regret about the day is that when my sister asked me what I thought about the Eldest and Middle of the Darling Daughters being her bridesmaids, I said I didn’t think it would be a good idea. The Eldest was four years old, the Middle
Daughter was three - I was worried just how they would behave themselves, given the importance of the occasion.
In my defence, I had just experienced a particularly
traumatic time in our doctor’s surgery where I had taken both girls who were feeling proper poorly. After watching them rampage around the surgery while I tried to explain their symptoms above the racket they were creating, the doctor took them in hand:
“Sit down!” he told them firmly, “You’re supposed to be ill!”
I tried to make up for denying them a role as supporting stars
in a major production by buying them each a beautiful new outfit from good old C&A - white flared trousers, a red top with white piping and a white tie belt which the Middle of the Darling Daughters always let trail behind her, a kind of fashion statement
all her own.
In the event, the Eldest of the Darling Daughters proved me wrong by behaving impeccably. In some of the group photographs she can be seen, standing
perfectly still holding a posy (presumably borrowed or purloined from one of the bridesmaids) in her clasped hands, every inch a quasi-bridesmaid. Her younger sister, however, can be seen on film wandering off (despite my mum’s restraining hand) and
roaming back and forward, in a world of her own....
Love and laughter - followed, of course, by the Happy Ever After. Some people may believe that to make it to
the giddy heights of a Golden Wedding, a couple must have lived a charmed life. My view, for what it’s worth, is that you don’t know the strength of a partnership till it has weathered a storm or two. My brother-in-law’s job in the RAF took
him on many an overseas posting for weeks at a time - Cyprus, Northern Ireland, the Falklands - leaving his family behind.
“However did you manage
on your own with three small children?” folk used to ask my Little Sister. To which she would always reply: “However would I have managed without them?”
Like others before them and since, they kept in touch through all the usual methods of communication at the time (no Internet or email in those days!) I still remember, with a lump in my throat, the tape Barrie sent back home while he was in the Falklands,
describing a walk to see the penguins, for all the world as though his best beloved were walking alongside him.
In different times they would have celebrated
today with a huge party for family and friends but all their best-laid plans were scuppered by the pandemic. Instead they dealt with disappointment by making exciting new plans - today they are with their Very Nearest and Dearest and, judging by the photos
they are sending us, they are having the Best of Times, which is, of course, just as it should be.
Happy Golden Wedding Anniversary, dear Maggie and Barrie. If
ever a couple deserved a Happy Ever After it’s the two of you!