Richmond Toastmasters is thrilled to welcome Lorna Boyle, Secretary of the Deltones, one of our nearby associated Toastmasters clubs. She is sharing her 3rd manual speech, which she delivered with heartbreaking sincerity.
Towards the end of her life, my Mum started to get a little bit cheesed off with my Dad. He kept asking her to marry him again… and again… and again. He seemed to completely forget that he had remarried a couple of times since they divorced in 1973.
My mum and dad had an unusual relationship, especially after they divorced. I often think about what they had… and lost, and regained. Losing mum so suddenly a couple of years ago made me want to put together some of her stories, including this one, of how they met. I believe there should always someone to record the stories that happen within a family. They say a picture tells a thousand words, but to me, well-written words will always give a far richer portrait.
Mum had been the youngest of 6 and was desperate to see the world when she left home at 17. By the time she was 21, she’d been a land army girl, a kennel maid in Lincolnshire, and a waitress at the White Swan in Stratford-upon-Avon,
Jose Summers met my Dad the evening of her twenty-first birthday. She had been persuaded by some friends to spend the evening at a dance hall in the city. She wasn’t at all keen on dancing, so this certainly hadn’t been her idea. By the end of the evening her girlfriends had met up with a group of guys and they were urging mum not to be a wet blanket and go on somewhere with them, but mum wasn’t keen. As she struggled with her coat, wondering how she was going to get out of it, she found someone was guiding her arm into her sleeve. She turned and saw it was a sailor; a very nice looking sailor with bright blue eyes and a wonderful smile. She called out to them, “It’s OK. You go on. I’m with him!”
I imagine my dad was quite surprised at this… but he’d also had a disappointing evening, so he asked if he could walk her home. By the time they reached mum’s door he was well and truly smitten. He asked her to marry him! She said, “But I can’t cook!” He said, “Oh, but I can! I’ll teach you.” The best he could get out of her that night was a promise of a date the next day. They arranged to meet underneath the clock tower in the town centre at noon. Dad had to send a telegram to a girl his mum had been trying to set him up with, but as he’d never sent one before, Mum said she’d give him a hand. She agreed and started to write his name on the form: “A L A N… ” and then realized she has no idea of his last name. He said it might be best if he spelled it for her. “P…Y…W…E…”. By this time she’s really wondering what on earth could possibly come next! It was just two Ls …PYWELL. She didn’t yet know she’d spend many years spelling it out to everyone herself.
They walked and talked through the whole afternoon, went to see a film that night and then walked and talked all the way home again. By the time they reached her door, my Mum is also very taken with this young sailor.
I’d like to share a poem Mum wrote 4 years after they divorced… it gives me such a great picture of their marriage, which at times was a bit of a rocky road. My dad was sometimes away at sea for 12 to 18 months at a time, but the honeymoons every now and then were lovely.
Marry in haste – repent in leisure
that’s how the saying goes
But that’s not true in every case
and I am the one who knows
My husband and I “met and married”
in the space of twenty-eight days
When one falls in love at first sight
it puts life in a “golden haze”
I enjoyed my marriage; it lasted
just twenty three years.
With all the usual ups and downs
through sickness, joy and tears.
We had a daughter, then two sons
to us “Our Imps” from birth
Finding the pleasures of Motherhood
seemed my reason for being on earth.
All the “happenings” as they grew
talking, walking, cuts to heal.
Toddlers, teenagers, now adults, yes
my memories are so real.
My husband and I have now parted
it seemed the best thing to do
I was just a home bird, while he
was a “boy in blue”.
The life he loved – the “Social Whirl”
I never enjoyed at all.
So it was, “you go your way, and I’ll go mine”
I hope you have “a ball”
Four years have passed since that day
we are still the best of friends.
If I can stay as contented as now
I’ll be happy till my life ends.
After they divorced they never did lose touch, in fact, my mum hosted my dad’s third wedding. Now that’s another story. He and his new wife, Sheila stayed with my Mum and her second husband, Wally, a number of times during their marriage.
Mum and Dad wrote to each other regularly for the rest of their lives, and when Dad’s writing got a little too shaky he phoned her almost every week. And yes, he frequently asked her to marry him again. He would say, “Oh, Cuddly, why did we ever part?” She could have easily replied, “Oh, let me count the ways! You drank like a fish and gambled our money away.” But Mum, who had been very happily single for the last twenty years of her life, just said, “Oh, Al, it would never work out. Best keep things the way they are…”
My brother Mike and I visited Dad in the home where he now lives and had a very emotional meeting with him the week after Mum’s funeral. We needed to tell him face to face what had happened. It took him a while to understand and he cried a fair bit. But then we had a bit of a singsong together, singing some of his favourite Nat King Cole songs, and he seemed OK. He then asked me who I was again. I admit I don’t talk to Dad often. But I really should call him, just to see how he’s doing.