I would like to thank you for your messages of goodwill and the continuing support that I am treasuring as I receive so many Christmas cards yet again. Since 2006, the year in which Tony and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, surrounded at the beginning of August by family and friends (old and new) for a fantastic weekend, I have rarely managed to write each December to those whose love I value so much. By the end of October that year, my dear friend/husband and I learnt that his cancer had spread to the cavity around his right lung, and this meant that he was now terminally ill, just four and a half years after the initial diagnosis of cancer in his bowel. Each November Tony and I planned to sit together, sipping a sweet sherry, and prepare to send a newsletter around the globe. Our tradition of 50 years could not however be continued, as each autumn found us just coping with the latest chemotherapy or treatment until December 2009 when a wonderful Dr Ayers whom we met in Lincoln's St Barnabas Hospice informed me that the cancer was now eating into one of the vertebra of Tony's spine. Driving to Crawley to spend Christmas with one of our sons and his precious family was no longer a possibility, and we very much appreciated invitations from friends in nearby Stixwould and Woodhall Spa to share their Christmas and New Year celebrations. I can't recall for sure whether Tony accompanied me to the carol service in our special little church of St Leonard's across the field, beside the Abbey ruins, that year, but I guess he did for he was never left alone in case he fell, but I missed his presence so much last Sunday afternoon when I attended this annual candle-lit service. The church glowed inside, and out, on a quite magical day; how different was the weather compared with 2010!
Anyway, back to January 18th, 2010, and another visit to Lincoln to see Dr Ayers who was advising us so helpfully on pain control. Dr Ayers emailed to me a copy of a recent scan that Tony had had in Lincoln Hospital, which noted that the cancer had now spread to the left of his chest and to the liver, and the vertebra was now almost completely consumed, so I was expecting that soon Tony would no longer be able to walk, but thankfully that didn't actually happen, for by the end of that week Tony's well-being declined rapidly and our wonderful Macmillan nurse arranged for a few days of night nursing help for us, so that I could sleep. On the Saturday morning two of our sons came for the weekend to see their dad, and Tony died peacefully at home on Tuesday afternoon, sitting in his chair in our sun-room just as he had wanted with my friend Valerie and me beside him. There wasn't time for our eldest son to come from Hawaii, but he sent some of his special memories to be read out at Tony's cremation service. I'll upload them tomorrow.
Just before I wrote this note to you, I listened to the news on the TV. Yet another serviceman's family will spend Christmas grieving, and I my thoughts go out to them. I am so sad to realise that I am not ever going to experience peace on Earth, though there does sometimes seem to be a growing movement towards it as I watch the reports of the numerous demonstrations, demanding freedom and true democracy.
Make the most of this time of goodwill, and remember the teacher whose birthday we are celebrating, love from Barbara