Pictures by Walter

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All Change – 12 Months on……

My last blog on the theme all change was on 29th January 2019.  Sitting here today (28th December 2019) I am struggling to find the words within myself to relate what happened over the past 11 months.  In February 2019 my partner Susan was informed that once again she had cancer, but this time it was in the Abdomen walls. She underwent 4 sessions of Chemo in six weeks with the hope that the cancer would be cleared.  In May Susan was once again in hospital with bowel blockage – it was thought the she had impacted feces. It was whilst she was in Ward 11 Western General Hospital that she dropped a bombshell – here follows an extract from her blog for that day:

8/5/2019 Proposed to Walter. He did his impression of a Watership Down rabbit but has accepted.

It just seems the right time. but it seems right that I give him as much public recognition as do my utmost to make the rest of the time we have together filled with good things. The reaction to our news has been totally mind blowing. It should be a great party.  The method of proposal was via a birthday card! 

As Susan was still in hospital I had the task of getting the wedding venue booked, arrange for a licence/registrar – due to her illness the statutory notice requirement was waved.  Whilst I rushed from one task to another, Susan sat and drew up a guest list 60 for the ceremony with an addition 64 for the reception.  Within 3 days I had arranged the Registrar for a Civil (non-religious) ceremony thanks to Debbie Stein Assistant Registrar, West Lothian who would officiate at the ceremony.  A wedding/reception venue a photographer (Eddie Anderson).  The ceremony/reception was to be held at Howden Park Centre – I really lucked in on that choice as I soon found out when I met the event organiser Fiona Wilson. Once I had explained the situation she uttered those magic words – “Leave everything to us – just tell us what you need and then relax”.  All was ready when she came home  on 11th May.  We decided we would make the best of things and take one day at a time.  In fact that became our matra.  Susan planned a family get together at Runcorn to meet up with her extended family which would be special in so many ways.  She had recently been reconciled with her daughter and this was an extra special event.

Susan with big brother Al and Doreen

We had several outings arranged our Devon trip was cancelled but our Roses Rail Tour on 20th – 24th June went ahead. We stayed in Midland Hotel, Bradford ideal for our day trips; Settle to Carlisle (Crossing Ribblehead viaduct) and back, East Lancashire Railway and finally the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. and returned in time for the big day.

The wedding was held on Susan’s birthday 26th June 2019.

26th June 2019  – Wedding of the Year  – Time 11:30 – Susan Wales and I were married my partner of 12 years was now my wife and I her husband.

A total of 124 guests were invited 60 of then for the ceremony (all that the room could hold) and the remaining 64 to join us at the reception.  To say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement.  All but 12 invited guests attend the other 12 had prior commitments but still managed to send congratulations.  Susan was deeply touched and I was gobsmacked.  I knew Susan had many contacts and interests but her network of contacts was extensive throughout the UK.

Our “Honeymoon” was a working one.  Susan’s involvement with Scottish Community Drama (formerly SCDA) had snared me  into taking stage photographs of the last 3 British Finals of the 1-Act Festival.  Susan was going to the latest one to be hosted by All England Theatre and held in Harrogate, I was honoured to be invited to take photos of the event.  Presentation of Awards.  We stayed with a very good Friend Annie Page who provided taxi service and hosted us around the area.  We even got to see the Ribblehead Viaduct from a more flattering view point.

Ribblehead Viaduct

We returned home on 9th July in time for more medical appointments.  On the 26th July Susan was admitted to St John’s Hospital, Howden, Livingston initially Ward 23 MAS and then Ward 25 where she remained until the 26th August when at my request and Susan’s wishes she was allowed home and Palliative care team took over her care at home.  We made two further outings with our good Friend Sid (The Intrepids) on 29th August Susan had a final visit to see her beloved mountain “Buachaille Etive Mòr”

Her final outing, again in the company of Sid and myself, was a trip to Arrochar on 7th September 2019 to see The Cobbler (The Cobbler is a mountain of 884 metres height located near the head of Loch Long in Scotland. Although only a Corbett, it is “one of the most impressive summits in the Southern Highlands”, and is also the most important site for rock climbing in the Southern Highlands. Wikipedia)

Then onto Glen Kinglas to visit a bridge built in 1745 to allow troop movements in the highlands and prevent an uprising -“Butter Bridge” next to the A83:

At 02:29 A.M on Sunday 15th September my wife passed away at home knowing she was loved by many especially me.  I stayed with her holding her hand as he breathed her last, the tears then (as now) streaming down my face. Partner for 12 years, wife for 11 weeks 3 days and my whole life from the day we met.  Her “ceremony of Life” on 25th September was as well attended as our wedding. She was cremated and her ashes will be spread at Glen Etive, Buachaille Etive Mòr and Butter Bridge in spring of 2020.

2019 was a year of changes not all good but certainly life effecting. What about the future?  At present I’m living in the now – the future is a far distant place for me – only time will tell.