Friday 1 March 2024


 I apologise for the absence, not in any way anything to do with my illness but simply to do with not having time.   I cannot begin to tell you how busy I have been this week - some days having as many as seven or eight visitors; it would be so good to ration them but, sadly, life doesn't work like that.

Far back in the "innocent "days of my childhood and teenage years, as a country child in a county which might be the second largest (Lincolnshire) in the country but probably because of its isolation and its large amount of land reclaimed from the sea, was - in pre-War days - I guess rather lagging behind in its efforts to 'keep up' with the then 'modern' thinking, Leap Year to us just coming into the idea of "boys" as something interesting rather than something to avoid was important.

(I meant this post to be put on on the 29th February but I am a day late and apologise.)  I think we rather thought that a woman could actually 'propose marriage' to a man rather than the other way round on this one day every four years.

Was this common to the whole country in those far off days or was it just in our "backward" neck of the woods? (And please don't tell me we weren't  backward in coming forward.   Our total lack of sophistication when compared with teenagers in large towns and cities was no mean thing.)

I was lucky (well I consider I was) in that I married a well-travelled, sophisticated man ten years older than me.   He pulled me up by my shoelaces so to speak.   He taught me that Romance, Love, call it what you will, is something quite different from the images we were brought up with.   One should not get carried away by a bunch of red roses on St Valentine's Day, by a mental image of happy ever after once the knot is tied.  As I said in my "poem" of a few weeks ago in this blog - small everyday things add up to more than any "gaudy bunch of red roses".

Which brings me to today's title and to Matthew Parris's Notebook in this week's Times.  One paragraph "Poetry in Motion" in which he talks about 'love hearts and schmaltzy verses" being alright in their place but forget St Valentine, forget that extra Leap Year Day.   What really matters is a much more sensible way to see "Love" as expressed in the ordinary, everyday things.   As  he says -  "fixing a leaky cistern in the toilet" or "emptying the dishwasher" or in my poem bringing me the first golden marsh marigold from the beck, or a beautiful partridge feather picked up in the field.

LOVE is such a funny word isn't it?   We use the word so often:  "I love to see the rooks flying over a backdrop of a pink dawn"; "I love my dog so much - I can't imagine life without him by my side", "  I do love Seville Orange Marmalade on Sourdough Toast with my morning coffee".

The word has become too commonplace.   'Living together' I understand has now become  more popular than 'Getting married.'   'Easier' say the cynics - no great torment of divorce if it doesn't work out.   Very true and perhaps the way forward.   In my day many, many couples stayed together not because they  still loved one another but because a woman leaving her husband and taking their children with her was just not possible in those days before child benefits and suchlike.

The young seem to view life, having children, finding a partner, everything to do with the progress through life, in a totally different way from how it was viewed when I was young.   I am not for one moment suggesting this is a retrograde step.  Far from it.  I think the young in this respect have a far more realistic view of life than we did (if we thought about it long term at all - I am not sure we did).  I am reminded of the last verse of Robert Herrick's 'Gather ye Rosebuds' which is advice to a young lady:

So be not coy, but use your time

And while ye may, go marry.

For having once but lost your prime

Ye may for ever tarry!

May we never return to that kind of thinking.   Womens' Lib may still have some way to go but don't let's go backwards.

St Valentine's Day, Leap year, may now be viewed almost with amusement.   But 'real' love is more about cooking the dinner if you are first in, sticking the washer on when you see a pile of school football gear piled on the kitchen floor by an open washing machine door, putting the bins out.   Oh and the odd bunch of flowers/box of chocs/surprise meal of your partner's favourite food never comes amiss.   Let's keep things in proportion.


Shelagh Duncan said...

Oh Pat, Would that everyone thought as you do!

JayCee said...

In may case recently it was having my husband spontaneously bring me a hot water bottle when I was feeling poorly.

Ursula said...

Pat, to pick up on just one point of your multi faceted post:

Yes, "I love" is overused. As is "I hate" - the other side of the coin.

There is a spectrum between black and white of human emotions. Some people are careful in their use of language; others are just lazy.


In the meantime? Don't ask. I have hinted at this before. There are four months between you and my mother. My mother? She couldn't be more quiet if she were dead. The contrast between the two of you is stark. It pains me. What's happened to the woman she once was? Since we live in different countries I can't just pop round the corner every so often. The tragedy? The tragedy that no variant of dementia is involved. She, my mother - a once vivacious woman - has folded up. I can only speculate but hazard a guess that my father has finally eroded her. Think Svengali. For me - and my sisters - it's a difficult. My brother? He is either impervious or just doesn't want to see what is staring him in the face.

On this happy note, Pat, you have brought me the odd tear of regret for what is lost and happiness showing me what is possible.


jinxxxygirl said...

I have been married 34 years.... some easy... a breeze.. some difficult ones we slogged through.. but i wouldn't trade any one of them.. We are always doing little things for each other.. its the spice of life.. Hugs! debs

The Weaver of Grass said...

Ursula I am so sorry to hear about your Mother. How very sad to hear. I do agree with you - love and hate just both sides of the same coin. It makes me realise everytime I hear a tale like this just how lucky I have been in love. Thirty nine years and 24 years - two blissful husbds - one a musician, a painter, an artist through and through and a wonderful husband. The other a Yorkshire Dales farmer with a profound love of Nature and a kind and gentle man.I send you my love my dear and wish I could say something to help but how one approaches old age and death in my case probably depends upon how happy one has been. Both husbands long gone now but so many happy memories.
Librarian - Four different words for love - that is an interesting idea/
JayCee Ten out of ten for that husband of yours - tell him so from me.

Susan said...

For me, true love is about a great partnership that also carries fondness and shared responsibilities and interests. That is my experience over time. This, for me, survives the ultimate test-of-time. That said, what works for one couple might not work for another.

thelma said...

Well I found my soul mate in the later years of my life. I think as a young person I fell 'in love' too quickly. It was only when as a widow contemplating marriage once more that I saw that love can be seen as different. I had three proposals all together, wept my eyes out for ages before I eventually said yes to the wrong man, also for the wrong reason and stayed in the marriage for 27 years for the sake of my son. But........ I have always loved the world around me and now coming to the end of my life living with my family I do not regret anything - not even the mistakes.

Rachel Phillips said...

I am not a great one to speak of love but I do see now later in life that companionship is what should be treasured and valued and maintained unless one wants to live alone and is happy without it.

Athene said...

So very accurate.
This reminds me of the poem ‘Atlas’ by U A Fanthorpe

Ellen D. said...

I didn't have a happy marriage which is why I am divorced. But I do have loving friends, siblings, children and grandchildren to make my life happy.

Debby said...

What a nice post! I like the process of early fire and passion softening into warmth and a comfortable relationship. I realized today, that as we worked together on the new house, we scarcely needed to speak. After all this time, we just understand.

Barbara Anne said...

Another brilliant post and your words are so true. Love is shown in a million everyday kindnesses, thoughtfulness, helpfulness, and gentleness. It is smiling eyes meeting in the kitchen or over a meal. It's lasted us nearly 53 years and, as we say from time to time, we haven't killed each other yet!!

Ta for another life lesson, Pat.


Virginia said...

Different times, different pressures, different expectations, aren't they. I've been supremely lucky too. I married a gentle, thoughtful man, willing to share household tasks before the time that was particularly 'expected', and always gentle. I've had 48 years with him come this Wednesday, and I appreciate him more as each week passes. I'm about to start chemo (Stage 3 Bowel cancer) and I know he will support me through the difficult bits ahead. How hugely blessed we are who have experienced deep love.

Brenda said...

Taught that poem often…the girls rewrote it to amuse…I love red roses…my childhood sweetheart/husband made sure they arrived on anniversaries..he also did a million little things…love the cards also…enjoy your blog. Brenda

Cro Magnon said...

I have never liked that on a specific day we have to give roses. It seems so cold and institutional.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Virginia Thinking of you my dear - we share a journey but we also share the memories of being married to men who were perfect for us. We have both been so lucky. Besr wishes for what lies ahead.
Athene - love Fanthorpe's poetry - so under rated.
Rachel - well said and so true.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thelma - Edith Piaf said it didn't she? No good comes from ooking back on mistakes - they are done - but we can learn from them - and to look back on the happy times means everything - certinly it does to me - and I guess to you too.

Thank you everyone - such interesting replies.

Heather said...

If only everyone thought as you do Pat. Love and life can be very complicated, and even marrying for love can be hard work, but we managed 62 years so not a bad record.
So pleased you are busy during your absences from Facebook. Keep warm!

John Going Gently said...

I still love my ex husband
Where would that original love go?

Karla said...

Pat! How I love your perspective on life, I really do. You have grown and expanded your mind and aren't stuck in the old ways of thinking and living. I agree that the youth of today are making choices that suit them, rather than becoming stuck and staying that way, especially with a mate. Bravo to them, I say. Create the life you want!

Tom Stephenson said...

I heart whatever is inadequate really. On Instagram the only thing you can do is heart someone, which - in most cases - I don't want to do for fear of misunderstanding...

anonymous said...
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Bea said...

Yes, let's not re-wind the clock on women's rights. -glad to read that your dance card has been full of late, but I would imagine it's also been tiring to entertain so many visitors in a day!

Sue said...

Real love this weekend for us was Alan fixing on a new toilet seat for me ... which due to the modern design of the toilet meant turning off the water and completely disconnecting the toilet before even being able to access the back where the screw fittings went in ... and then me making him a couple of his favourite cheese scones when we got back from walking the dogs.

I think it's discontentment with what they think they should be, and what they should have that causes the most splits between young couples these days. Sadly it's the children that pay the price. This non-committed form of relationship is then seen by the children as the 'norm' so each generation is getting a more skewed sense of what true love and commitment is. I speak from experience after watching my two oldest grandsons going through this. It's very sad to see my great-grandchildren and younger grandchildren growing up with this.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sue - I do so agree with your second paragraph. There no longer seems to be any sense of long-term commitment in reationships. There are children now near me - three siblings, three different fathers. I have to say I am happy to be on my way to leaving rather than joining this world.

Bea - love the idea of a dance card!!
Tom - join the club. Mind you I wouldn't mind sending a heart to Monty Don anonymously!

Thanks everyone. My sight us failing and I cannot answer any more comments individually but I promise you I have read them all

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that you are losing your eyesight.

Anonymous said...

Late to the party, but enjoyed your post Pat.
My husband has always been my best friend.
It was hard to decide to take things to the next level when young, as I didn't want things to go wrong and lose my best mate - luckily here we are!
We've been married for 47 years and these days, much more then ever, I panic when I think of life without him. His health is not good, but we keep positive. Another big heart op. coming up for him soon. He has battled so many big issues lately.
We've never made a big deal of Valentine's Day.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts Pat. I hope the rest of the week is not too tiring for you. - Pam.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Besr wishes to your husband for that op pam.