Sixty years, a diamond wedding anniversary, a lifetime for some. Sixty happy years, some hard some easier but mostly happy. Bill looked at the faded photograph on the sideboard and settled back in his chair. He looked across at the matching armchair at the far side of the fireplace and blew a kiss towards it.
‘Happy Anniversary Ducks,’ he muttered
A voice from the kitchen called, ‘Do you want a cup of tea Dad?’
‘Oh yes please Ducky’ Bill smiled. As if she needed to ask he thought ‘I never say no to a brew, you think she’d know that.’
‘There you go – three sugars to keep you going today.’ His Ducky bent and kissed his forehead and went back to the kitchen to busy herself. He eyed the tea stood on the top of the radiogram beside his chair. The mug bore his name and a discoloured image of Blackpool tower. Memories of that holiday came flooding back. Two excited young boys with them, a six hour coach journey, sandwiches in yesterdays bread wrapper, knitted swimsuits that sagged, buckets and spades, donkey rides and inedible Blackpool rock. That holiday was really their honeymoon. Seven happy carefree days that resulted in another mouth to feed, the baby of the family, a beautiful daughter, a real souvenir. War was just over when they had married, a rushed wedding ensuring the bride still had a nipped waistline. There had never been the money, the time or the need for a proper honeymoon. Times were hard, money in short supply, but love, tears and laughter got them through it all.
‘Well Ducky I’d better go and get changed, the boys will be here for us soon’, He left the tea untouched and climbed the stairs.
In the bedroom his best bib and tucker, as he liked to call it, hung ready on the wardrobe door. ‘Oh if that suit could talk’, he thought. ‘The christenings, the weddings, the celebrations and the funerals it had been to.’
Bill changed into his outfit; he’d shaved when he got up to save time. Standing in front of the utility wardrobe and viewing himself in the full length mirror he pondered on how he seemed shorter in stature these days, he was over six foot in his hey-day but now he must be about five foot ten at most. His ruddy complexion a testimony to years of working on the land. The once blonde hair now grey, but still thick and wiry with a mind of its own.
‘Must have spent a fortune on Brylcreem over the years,’ he thought to himself as he reached for the tube. Smoothing his hair and straightened his tie he stood looking out the window not really looking but deep in thought. Then he noticed the rose by the front gate, a real bobby dazzler, Golden Showers, climbing along the fence. His Ducks had carried yellow roses on their wedding day. He hoped she liked the ones he’d bought for today. He’d never bought her flowers before, but today was so special. It was sixty years ago today for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Sad that the kids hadn’t remembered the wedding anniversary he thought, but he didn’t like to mention it as they had celebrated their sixtieth last year with them – well it was the way his Ducks had wanted it – just to make sure no one would realise they had to get married. Daft after all these years!
‘Come on Dad the cars are here, they’re waiting for you, don’t forget your hankie you might need it,’ turning he was surprised to see his little Ducky had entered the room unheard; ‘The boys are here as well.’
She straightened his tie unnecessarily and kissed him on the cheek, ‘You mustn’t be late for Mum’.
He walked back over to the dressing table to take a neatly pressed hankie from the top drawer, and placed it in his pocket. As he turned to leave the room he looked out of the window and gasped at what he saw - sixty yellow roses and his Ducks in such a beautiful silver hearse waiting for him.
Till death do us part he thought.