My husband and I have been married 53 years today, 24th September 1966 was the date. I had a cunning plan when I chose this date because his birthday is on 25th September and I thought to myself if we marry the day before his birthday he will never forget our anniversary. Well that plan went awry right from year one! No way did he remember unless I gave him a prod.

I was 22 years old the month before and he was 22 the day after. We took our vows without giving them much thought: To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part. Old age seemed so many years away and we were young and healthy with everything in front of us.

Sadly my husband has vascular dementia and alzheimers and has been in care, and so for the past 18 months I have been on my own. I’ve got to thinking about the vows we took, quite lightly, all those years ago and realise they seem to be a big part of our lives now. In sickness and in health.

I didn’t visit him today because I know he wouldn’t understand when I said Happy Anniversary to him. He wouldn’t know what an anniversary was or what the word even means. He wouldn’t know we’d been married for 53 years and he’d get upset because he wouldn’t know what I was saying to him. He has lost his communication skills and when he speaks I have no idea what he is talking about as he can’t form sentences any more. Sometimes he makes up non existent words when he cant find a word. He doesn’t understand what I am telling him either.

He thinks he’s “been thrown away” his words not mine. Painful words because there is nothing I would like more than to have him home pottering in the garden or sitting in his shed watching the birds in the garden through the window which is something he enjoyed doing. I wouldn’t even object to him coming into the kitchen just as I was picking up dinner to hear him say “I’m not hungry I don’t want anything to eat”

We’ve certainly reached the ‘in sickness’ part of our vows and in a weird sense these seem to give me purpose to keep going because a vow is a vow and should not be broken.

Happy Anniversary my darling.