With todays clutch of cards come the news of the death of an old friend...She was very old so it was not a surprise or even very sad....I suspect she was ready for it. It does though leave me free to tell her story.
She was a young girl during the war and she met a wonderful looking young man home on leave. After a whirl wind romance they married at the end of the week and had one night of wedded bliss before he went back to his regiment. She was very innocent and very unworldly at that time.
She had only learned his name by looking at the wedding certificate after he'd gone.
She said, "I just called him hugs." She didn't know how to pronounce it as Hughes....so Hugs he remained forever.
She confided in me at one stage that she had never expected to see him again....so many young men did not come back.
She had returned to her life in London, meeting other young men and actually having a marvellous time by her own account.
After the war she got a communication from the army. Hugs was coming home. It had been three years since they married...what he'd done with his leaves she never knew.
At this point in the story she had gazed at me with consternation.
"Jean, I couldn't even remember what he looked like....I hadn't forgotten him of course but I knew nothing at all about him...apart from his name and I even got that wrong"
She was terrified.....what had she done? Tied herself to a stranger...who was coming home and expecting to be welcomed by his loving wife.
In the event it had not been quite like that. He didn't know what to expect either and was returning to his wife for lack of anything better to do....
They arranged to meet under a clock at Waterloo.....You couldn't make this up ....
She wasn't sure she would even recognise him...
She had waited, several times determining to just walk away......to forget the whole thing.....a quickie divorce and the whole thing would be a casualty of war...
They met, kissed shyly and went to talk over a drink or two......by the end of the evening they were friends but that was all....they arrange to meet again and that started their courtship proper.
When eventually they decided to live together they were still not sure if it would work.
Celebrating their 40th anniversary with them it was clear how much in love they were..but she told me they had had some very difficult times over the first year or so..... but had persevered...
Hugs died some time ago now....Fiona now has joined him.
Many war time romances must have started like theirs but its difficult to imagine a happier ending. They had weathered the storms of life with great courage, a sense of humour and an ability to laugh together...you can't want better than that.