My Fifth Sad Christmas.

I cannot believe that this Christmas will be the fifth one without my beloved husband Peter, we were together for 50 years after meeting each other in 1964, it was love at first sight. We were little more than children, we left school at 15 years of age and started work straight away. We were so innocent in those days, life was so much fun, we didn’t worry about anything, the world was our oyster and we thought we would live forever.

We got engaged two years later and married in 1967. Our first son was born in 1970 and our second son in 1973. I remember the day my Peter came to see me in hospital just after our first son was born, he had the biggest bunch of red roses in his hand and he said ‘Thank you for my son’. He was a wonderful husband and father and he lived for his family.

I was watching the Shadows on TV today and I just burst out crying because I have lost count of the times we danced to their music. I close my eyes and can remember everything about the night we met, what he said to me, what we had to drink and what music was playing at the Mecca Locarno.

I wonder just how much longer I can go on without him, everyday is hard, I get up in the morning and decide what I want to do and the answer is, not a damned thing. Going out alone is soul destroying but I go, not because I want to, but because I need to get something, otherwise I would stay at home.

What I have done is booked myself a holiday in December at an hotel in Lytham St. Annes, it is with the Church Friendship group I attend and the holiday is for five days. We are all widows and widowers and will be going to see a show and to the Blackpool Tower ballroom in the afternoon. There are trips out and about so I thought I would give it a go.

I will be spending Christmas with our youngest son and his family and New Year with our other son and his girlfriend.

I love my home, it is my sanctuary and that is what keeps me going, memories of the day Peter carried me over the threshold, bringing home our first baby so many wonderful memories. Remembering the time I had just got a bath on the first night in our new home after our honeymoon (it was a brand new house) and seeing Peter come dashing into the bathroom where I was drying myself and putting the plug plug back in the bath. The builders had forgotten to attach the waste pipe to the bath and water was streaming into the kitchen. Cooking a chicken for the first time with the plastic bag inside. Making brandy snap and watching it creeping out of the bottom of the oven and onto the floor like The Blob and when it hardened, picking it up like cardboard. Peter always used to tell our sons that we had some very weird meals when we first got married as I could not cook. It is all these memories that keep Peter with me, and it will never, ever be the same as having him here but it will have to do until we meet again.

I know there are so many newly bereaved people on the forums and I wish I could tell you that you will get over this, but you won’t, what will happen is that you will learn to accept what has happened and learn to live a different life but you will never get over losing your loved one. There is always a song, an anniversary, a memory that brings tears to your eyes and that will never change because the anniversaries and songs come year after year after year, there is no getting away from them.

Love to all.

Sheila.xx

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Sheila…
…I shan’t be doing Christmas, as last Christmas i relented and wanted to buy a small tree which i did and said to my Richard " i want to get a Christmas tree this year as this might be our last Christmas together…" well it was - and it is…
I will no doubt just hibernate and pray for Christmas to be over…

Jackie… ((( HUG )))

I know what you mean Jackie, Peter died a few weeks before Christmas and I was told I was going to our eldest son’s home for Christmas day. I didn’t want to go, but he told me I was not staying at home on my own. It was terrible, trying to smile, and look happy, they brought me home afterwards and I spent the rest of Christmas day and boxing day crying my eyes out. There was no cards, no trimmings and no tree. I did not put up a tree for the following three years then last year I bought a real one so I could put it in the garden afterwards as our son was spending Christmas with me in our home. It is still there in the container at the side of the car-port. It is heartbreaking having so many wonderful Christmases over the years then absolutely hating it now I am alone.

Love

Sheila.x

We loved Christmas, for the 47 years we were married, our home was a Christmas grotto every single year and when Peter died I didn’t have the heart or the energy to do anything at all. This year I won’t be doing anything in the home either, I will just go to our sons homes. If I had my way I would stay at home, lock the doors on Christmas Eve and stay there until January the 2nd. I hate the New Year as it is just another year alone.

Hi there to you both and lovely to hear from you Sheila. I feel the same as you both. I now call myself the ‘Grinch’.
Brian and I never had children together so we don’t have the memories that you have Sheila, so beautiful. We did spend the day with family though but always liked getting back home again, shutting out the worls and just being together. Brian used to say “Why do we have to visit every year, why can’t we stay at home and just have egg and chips”. I always promised him that we would actually do that one day.
I dislike all the greed of Christmas these days however I do like the carols and lights in windows and last year after just losing Brian I used to walk the streets in the dark with the dogs and look at the tree’s in windows. It seemed to help. On Christmas day I sat on the floor listening to a CD of Brian singing. I played it over and over very loud and cried and cried until I thought my heart would give out. I wanted to be alone but my grandson came and took me back to his house and a family dinner but I felt as if I was in a bubble and couldn’t get out. I could only stay for a short while but it was so thoughtful of them. I didn’t want a tree either but my Gr grandkids decided that I was to have one and put mine up for me and decorated it. This was something Brian enjoyed doing. I liked having the tree up in the end and now looking for an Angel to go on the top.
I too hate New Year and go to bed, we did for years. Last year I put my head under the bedclothes and fortunately we slept through it, fireworks as well.
Pity we can’t all spend Christmas together as we would all understand what each other was feeling.
Pat xxx

afternoon Pat, I didn’t do Christmas last year, 7 months after Alan passed everything was still very very raw, a little easier now yet still on this rollercoaster. our son and daughter came and it was just like a Sunday lunch, didn’t switch the tv on at all, first Christmas day that has happened. ended up playing monopoly for 3 hours afterwards. all the cards were tucked away in a drawer with the exception of two from Winston, our daughter’s pug, one really upsetting one was from my youngest sister wishing me the best Christmas ever! no concept whatsoever. still unsure about the tree this year, Alan and I always decorated it together, he’d put the lights on and of course the Angel on the top, getting quite weepy now at the thought of having to do that on my own. probably leave the tree in the loft for another year.

plucked up the courage to go to the hotel in Blackpool that we visited every new year for over 20 years, it was hard to do but something I had to get through. it was a double trial as my birthday is New Year’s Eve and was the first one without Alan since we celebrated my 16th birthday together. I had our friends there for support and I managed it through all the tears and sadness in my heart. this year I am taking my mum now she’s more mobile following her hip operation. I’ve booked a different room, it will be a nice break for her too, my dad passed 13 years ago end of November and my mum misses him still and why shouldn’t she, we all do. now I know how she felt and still feels after losing my dad. until you are in the same situation I don’t think anyone can comprehend how it truly feels.

hope today is an improvement on yesterday and tomorrow is an improvement on today

blessings
Jen ☆

Dear Pat,

So lovely to hear from you too, I don’t post very often now, I hope your health is okay.

My Peter was just the same, in the 47 years we were married we always had Christmases in our home, the boys, when they started bringing their girlfriends home was a nightmare for Peter, he couldn’t keep up with the changes and kept calling their girlfriends by the previous girlfriends names, our sons got annoyed with him and said for god’s sake dad, just call them love and that is what he did, every girl was called love, the trouble was, when they got engaged, he couldn’t remember the girls name, it was hilarious.

Ours was open house every year and when Peter died five years ago, that first Christmas without him was horrendous, I just didn’t know how to get through a Christmas without Peter and the house being full of people. Even though he had been ill for eight years, I still put on Christmas dinner for everyone as Peter wanted his family around him. I now no longer cook. I just go to Marks and Spencer’s once a week and get stocked up with ready meals for one, freeze them and have them on my knee watching TV. I can no longer sit at the table with a place setting for one.

I think I have forgotten how to cook a proper meal, I turned my oven into a cupboard for my pyrex ware and cooking tins and bought a microwave/combination cooker and grill and that does everything a big cooker will do.

I take it one day at a time and have done for the past five years, this year is the only time I have had to plan weeks ahead as I booked a holiday to St Annes with the Friendship group I attend, it is attached to a church. I usually just make a list out once a week of what needs doing and cross it off as the jobs are done.

It would be lovely to have a massive Christmas get together, I am going for a Christmas meal with the Friendship group a few days before our St. Annes holiday, we are all widows and widowers, many more women than men though.

Well time for a coffee and finish watching the movie I started last night.

Lots of love

Sheila.xx

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Lovely to hear from you Sheila I was becoming a bit concerned at not hearing from you. Funny everytime I think about someone that we haven’t heard from for a while, they appear again. So pleased you have come back to us.
I don’t know what sort of Christmas Brian had when he was younger but I do know that when we met he preferred a quieter time, possibly with a visit to the local pub. He did tell me that he quite liked it when he was on his own (lived on his own for six years before we met although he did have girlfriends). He went to the pub and then put his feet up and cooked a dinner to suit himself. He always did like his own company. When we went to my daughters for Christmas she always liked a full house and I know in the last few years it got a bit much for Brian. He would disappear and we would find him in another room, either watching TV or asleep. We went abroad a few times but it was never a huge success. Overpriced and disappointing usually.
I suppose the ready meals are the easiest option when on our own but as I grow all my veg I still cook. Nothing fancy, veg all mixed up together and not placed carefully as I did when it was the two of us. Because I was so careful with our diet for years I have still got that mentality to prepare healthy meals, usually veggie these days. Like you, can’t sit in the dining room at the table any longer, just on my lap in the living room. How Brian loved having his meals on his lap on a tray. I was the one so fussy about sitting at the table, now look at me.
Good on you for going on that trip, we have to sometimes get out of our comfort zone and make an effort. My dogs won’t let me go away I couldn’t bear to be without them though. Perhaps one day I will be able to get away but for now I’m quite happy to stay put.
Love to you

Pat xxx

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Peter was 18 years old when we met in 1964, he had lost his dad when he was about 6 and his mum, who was 47 was dying of cancer when we met. I got to meet her twice before she died a few weeks after meeting Peter. Once in the hospice and once in their home. He was on his own after that but even though we had only met at the end of August, a few weeks before she died, we knew we were in love with each other so he spent most weekends at my home with my parents and sister. I would go to Leeds on the bus to meet him and that is the dream I dream such a lot, me getting off the bus, Peter running to meet me, taking me in his arms and kissing me, but it is always in Black and White. We courted for 12 months then got engaged, was engaged for 12 months and in September of 1967, we got married.

Peter was not well off, his mum was manageress in the Gown Department at Lewis’s Departmental store in Leeds. He used to play for Leeds City boys and played with some of the now old Leeds United football players but he had to give it up as he couldn’t afford the kit or pay to go away for the weekend matches as he had a part-time job helping his mum with money.

He loved his home and family, if it wasn’t for me, we would never have had a holiday as he loved to stay at home, or just go for drives in different parts of the UK, have afternoon tea then come home. We have visited so many different countries so if someone asked me where I would love to go I would just say, nowhere, I just want to stay at home with my memories. I am only going to St. Anne’s because they wanted a few more people to make up the numbers otherwise it would have been cancelled, so a few of us volunteered. I am not looking forward to it really, as we spent so many years when we were courting in Blackpool, Bridlington, Morcambe and Scarborough, that is when you used to get dressed up when you went out for the day at the seaside. I have pictures of my mum and dad sat in deckchairs dad in his suit, shirt and tie and mum in her dress and jacket. I have a photo of me and Peter, me in a jacket, pleated tricel top, skirt and 4 ins heels and Peter in a jacket, trousers, shirt and tie walking along the promenade. We went to the Blackpool tower so many times dancing in the afternoon. I still try and avoid places as much as possible where we used to go together as I find my mind is wandering back to when we were young and my sense of direction is nil now so if I don’t concentrate I get lost.

I am now going to do a bit of ironing, the garden is now up todate and ready for winter but there are still roses, fuschias and chrysanthemums still flowering. They look gorgeous. Luckily my garden is surrounded by evergreen hedging and it looks beautiful in winter when it is white with frost. Since Peter died, I went through the garden like a tornado and planted everything that was perennial, I stopped messing about with annuals, just put plants and bushes in that came up every year.

Love

Sheila.xx

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Sheila what lovely memories you have. Most of us cling to those happy memories as they can take us out of this nightmare for just a short while.
I found a photo of Brian and i on our wedding day this morning. It seems to have been hidden from the rest of the photo’s. My tall handsome husband has his arm around me. I kissed the photo as it was one of the happiest days of my life, I was like a dog with two tales. I had been married twice before but that day I married Brian I knew I had come home at last. My first marriage I was too young to really take in what it all meant, I was a child living a child’s dream. I wanted to get married in the morning and race off to a Horse Show in the afternoon to compete. My mother was rightly so appalled and put her food down. I did go to a Horse Show the next day and was up at the crack of dawn to get the horses ready. I even forgot to enter in my married name. My second marriage was for security and I knew I was making a big mistake but wrongly thought I could make it work and then later along came Brian and I was so happy on that magical day. I got it right at last. You are so lucky to have met Peter at such a young age and had that happy ever after marriage. Brian and I often talked about what might have happened if we had met when younger and did agree that it probably wouldn’t have worked. I was obsessed with horses and Brian his sailing and being ‘one of the boys’. Neither of us would have been interested in the other’s interests and Brian admitted he would have become fed up of me being off riding all the time. With me it was a case of ‘love me love my horse’. .
I also found a little pencil written poem that Bri had done for me when he left me a bunch of flowers which he did quite often, sometimes bought, sometimes grown. The poem said how much he loved me and it set me off crying before I had even come downstairs. I like to think he had just written it for me during last night and left it for me to find as I have no idea how it suddenly appeared by the side of me. Who knows!!!
I have to take the dogs out, have to get used to going out earlier now, nights drawing in.
Love to you

Pat

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I am so sorry you had two unhappy marriages but at least you found love in the end.

I sometimes go through all the cards we sent each other over the years, and one of them said, before we got engaged, ‘To the girl I am going to make mine one day’. My god, it breaks my heart when I think of what I have lost. Oh to be able to go back in time and do it all again.

I remember so much detail. I only have to sit down, close my eyes and think back and I can tell you what dresses I wore, what colours they were. The time I fell down the Olympia amusement arcade step at Blackpool wearing some slip on mules, made out of straw and covered in raffia flowers. So many memories, it is like looking through a window. Going on the Speedway at the feast and nearly falling off and Peter grabbing me round the waist trying to hold me on. Or going on the Caterpillar ride, where a hood came over and Peter stealing a kiss before the ride was over, then as we got off a gust of wind blew my skirts and net underskirts over my head showing my stockings, suspenders and next weeks washing.

Peter was also, tall, 6 ft 4 ins. he was such a good looking boy, when he asked me to dance I thought all my Christmases had come at once. I am at the moment sorting through hundred’s of photos from when we met to when he died and I am making it into a story of our lives together, I have got a lot of albums but I wanted this one to start with photos of our births and as we got older and older right up until the year Peter died. It will be our lives in pictures.

Love

Sheila.xx

Thank you for sharing your memories. Your love for each other shines through in your words. Your post made me smile and cry. I am moving along with my new life, but I know that I will carry this sorrow and grief within me forever…
I hope your trip to Lytham St. Anne’s brings you pleasure and Christmas with your family is full of love and laughter…

Dear Heather Diane,

Thank you so very much, what a wonderful thing to say, I really appreciate it.

You are so right, it is all about moving on with our new lives, albeit, not the lives we thought we would ever have. I think so many of us, when we were young and so in love, thought we had forever, but I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones we had 50 years together and made so many memories and I am so grateful that my mind is still as sharp as it always was and I can remember things way back to my childhood. They are correct when they say I can remember when I was young but can’t remember what I was doing last week. Some people may think it is a sign of our memory not working as well as it should do, but I think it is because since our loved ones died nothing interests us anymore so we cannot remember what we did last week as it is not worth remembering.

I don’t post on the forums much anymore because I don’t want these lovely people to think that this is it for the rest of their lives, but in a way, this is it for the rest of our lives, we may go out with friends for an hour or two, we may laugh and joke but at the end of the day, you still come home to an empty house where, in my case, memories are pouring out of the walls, this is my refuge where I am at peace, this is where we in a way grew up and grew old together, two young people starting out on their lives together. I compare losing my Peter with losing myself because I am not the person I used to be, the light went out of me when Peter died. I go out for meals, to shows, I love the tribute shows of the groups of the 60’s, I go on holiday but it is not the life I want or expected to have.

I hope you find peace along the way, I have found peace, I find peace in my memories, in the music we loved and in the hundred’s of photos we have taken over the years. I have kept my husband’s ashes with me in our home, so as far as I am concerned, he is now with me every single day until I leave this earth and our ashes will be scattered together in a place we loved.

Thank you once again for your lovely comments.

Love

Sheilaxx

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It will be my first Christmas without my lovely wife who passed away on 21st July 2019,I don’t know how I’m going to cope,we were together for 40 years,it feels so lonely,it doesn’t feel like a home anymore,I hope your pain starts to ease,life can be hard,best wishes
.

Dear M50,

I am so terribly sorry, I know exactly what you are going through.

After five years without my husband, I have learned to accept and live a different life, it is not the life I ever thought I would have as I thought we would be together forever and nothing could ever touch us, but we were so lucky, the 50 years we were together was wonderful.

You will cope, you will get out of bed each morning and do what needs doing, you will cry, you will scream but at the end of the day, you will cope. You will find ways of learning to live a life alone. When my husband died, I hated computers, but I started to mess about on his desktop, I bought myself a laptop so when I got stuck on something, I could ask a question on my laptop and sort it out. I am now computer literate, self taught, no classes at all. I do everything on it, scanning photos, printing them, making movies out of them and adding music. The list goes on, I do everything online now, banking, shopping, I would never have to leave the house if I didn’t want to.

Whenever Peter used to do jobs or work in the garden, I was beside him, I was his gofor, so now I can do most diy jobs, I don’t touch gas or electricity, but I can decorate and repair things, I love gardening, all I know is that I will never stick fast if anything goes wrong, my kitchen flooded the other week, I just turned off the water under the sink and called my emergency home insurance, it only took them 30 minutes to arrive and repair it. I did not panic at all. That is something I have learned since Peter died, I don’t panic anymore, I let things go over my head, the worst thing has happened to me so what is a flood in the kitchen, or a light fusing, or a fridge breaking down, it is nothing, I just get out my phone and ring someone.

Yes I still shed a tear, especially at a sad movie, or when our songs start to play and when I see a photo of us together, but that is what you do when you have loved someone for most of your lives. I am not ashamed to tell our sons how much I miss their dad, they have told me that they wish they had had the kind of marriage we had but they got divorced after eight years, shortly after Peter died. I told them don’t think we never argued, because we did, but we never, ever stopped talking to each other and we never, ever went to bed on an argument, my mum told me this when we first got engaged. As ill as Peter was, we still slept together in our bed, oxygen cylinders, nebulisers and all, sometimes topsy turvy, my head at the bottom and feet at the top to make room for all the pillows he needed. I once asked him if I should move into the small bedroom to give him more room and he said no. The last night he was rushed into hospital I was with him all night holding his hand and he died that afternoon, with me and our sons beside him. The only time we were apart was when he was in hospital or when I was in hospital having our sons, when I now sleep alone after 47 years of sleeping next to someone, I put the pillow in the middle of the bed and sleep on my side and Peters side at the same time.

We moved into our home after our honeymoon, he carried me over the threshold. After Peter died, the house was cold and seemed so empty, but as the years passed it became my sanctuary, the one place where I could sit and think about the past, I am surrounded by memories of 47 years of married life. I still have Peter’s ashes and they are waiting for me so they can be scattered together in a place we both loved. I go out and when I come home and close the door, I breathe a sigh of relief, I am home where I belong.

It will take time, lots of time but you will start to live again, albeit a different life but there will always be ups and downs. The other day I was talking to two people I hadn’t seen for years and we asked each other how our families were. They lost their husbands 15 and 20 years ago, I told them Peter had died five years ago and they told me that they still cry for their husbands and still want them back but they are happy in their own way, living a different kind of life. They go on holidays together, on cruises, they said they are making the best out of the years they have left.

Since Peter died, I went on a Mediterranean cruise with all the family as Peter would never go on one and he said, if anything happened to him, I had to go. I have been to The Channel Islands and Sardinia with one of our sons after he got divorced. I go for massages and my nails doing, (which won’t interest you in the slightest), I still buy clothes, shoes, perfume and jewellery. What I try and not do, is go to places where Peter and myself have been, sometimes it is unavoidable so I just whizz round, do what i have to do and go home.

All I can tell you is to be strong, I have been down on my knees howling like a mad dog into a cushion until I was exhausted, that doesn’t happen anymore, but I still get that lump in my throat or a tear in my eye when I look at a black and white photo of us when we met in 1964, where did the years go. I am now 77 years old, fifty five years after the day we met. I met Peter on Saturday the 29th August 1964 and he died in my arms Saturday the 30th August, 2014, both Bank holiday weekends. Exactly 50 years together.

Yes, life can be hard, but you and I had much more than many people get and for that we should be grateful.

Love

Sheila.xx

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Duplicated post…
…Well one question would not take long to answer, as the well known Christmas song goes…" all i-we want for Christmas is…" you can forget about our two front teeth…

Jackie…

Totally true. These Christmases, anniversaries and birthdays etc. come around every year reminding us of who and what we have lost and that will never, ever change.

Love to all.

Sheila.x

I was one who always lifted my tiny glass of baileys, my one and only annual drink…i would quietly talk to and remember the people, my family who i have with me no more, of course my Richard was never on this list…i cant believe he is now…

Jackie…

I know what you mean Jackie. We were not drinkers really, Peter liked a pint of Tetley’s and I liked a glass of sparkling wine with fresh orange juice in it, a bucks fizz.

Our son once told me that he thinks of dying as everyone in your family being on a double deck bus, every seat is taken, then at each bus stop, someone gets off, the bus continues to the next stop and someone else gets off, this continues until there is only one person left on the bus.

I too am not much of a drinker either, I drink when I am thirsty and that usually is tonic water, I sometimes have a glass of sparkling wine with orange juice which makes a Bucks Fizz. Peter had a pint of Tetley’s with a meal but if he was driving, he had a shandy, neither of us were keen on spirits. New Year’s eve we always stayed up to see the fireworks, our Black Cat Sooty let the new year in for 22 years, we let him out of the back door, he would run round the house and meow at the front door to come back in, we let him in and said happy new year. He hated being outside, even in summer, he was a real homely cat. His favourite place was lying on the top of Peter’s head when Peter was having a lay down on the sofa.

I don’t know if you have seen this saying before, I think it says all it needs to say…

"I thought I would spend the rest of my life with you, then I realised, you spent the rest of your life with me.

I smile because I know you loved me until the day you went away and will keep loving me until the day we are together again."

Love

Sheila.xx

Sheila…
…no i have not come across this one before but it does comfort me, thank you…
" I thought I would spend the rest of my life with you, then I realised, you spent the rest of your life with me." It has a bitter - sweet feelgood factor, because ones life was cut off shorter than one expected…

Jackie…

I totally agree. It is bitter sweet, because I know that Peter, from the day we met all those years ago, always wanted to be with me and he was. He never knew what it was like to be left behind grieving.

Love

Sheila