Not Many Wise

[22] 1993 to 1998 gathering storm clouds a real-life story

When Roy and I worked on our tomato nursery at Ardleigh, Colchester, our son, Peter, would encourage us to play Badminton but our answer was always ‘we are too old to play badminton!’

Then when we retired and moved to Newton Flotman, near Norwich, we took up badminton!
Roy was like a Jack Russel chasing a ball – except in Roy’s case it was a shuttlecock! He just didn’t want to let it fall to the floor.
What happened to us being too old?

We went on holiday with Peter in August 1994 to Yorkshire near Gordale Scar.
The clouds were very low on the hills and very damp at times – see the photo below taking a lunch break in complete waterproofs and sitting out of the wind next to a dry stone wall!

A couple in waterproofs sitting at a dry stone wall on August 1994 on a holiday near Gordale Scar in Yorkshire.
August 1994 a holiday near Gordale Scar in Yorkshire. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

About every month we would travel over to Peter’s alpine and herb nursery in Bluntisham, Cambridgeshire, and help out with the nursery tasks.

May 1994 laid out plants in pots within a large polythene tunnel.
May 1994 potted alpines and herbs. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Roy would do the potting and I would take cuttings.

The potting bench and propagation were in a large polythene tunnel which got hot in the sunshine – as can be seen in the picture below:

Roy Reason potting young plants.
May 1994 Roy Reason potting in a polythene tunnel. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Peter would bring me stock plants and give a demonstration on how to take the cuttings and then it would be up to me.
The finished cuttings were then put under a polythene cold frame.

The picture below shows me transplanting seedlings, which Peter stopped doing in preference for sowing direct into plug trays and so reducing the labour time.

1994 May nursery prop min
May 1994 Christine Reason pricking out seedlings in a polythene tunnel. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In October 1995 we had a very special celebration – our Ruby Wedding anniversary. The party was held in the church hall at Newton Flotman.

1995 10Oct Ruby Wedding Party Newton Flotman min
October 1995 the Ruby Wedding Party at Newton Flotman. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Around this time, Roy was having a lot of indigestion and a couple at the badminton club suggested going on the Hayes diet which was based on a protein meal or a carbohydrate meal – but not combining them both in one meal.
So we decided to commit to that diet.

But Roy’s stomach problems persisted and he went several times to our small doctor’s surgery.
Each time the doctor would say that it was just indigestion and would give the appropriate medicine.

Roy felt that it was something more serious but he could not ask to see a different doctor, so he insisted that it be taken further.
The doctor agreed and we had a worrying wait for the results.

Unfortunately, Roy was diagnosed with bowel cancer and it was too advanced to do anything with it.
We decided to look for a house near Peter in Bluntisham so that it would be easier for him to help me.

We found a house in ‘The Poplars’ that looked straight up the road and not directly at another house.
It had a small garden which would not take much looking after.

In the meantime, Peter had met Jackie from Swadlincote in Derbyshire and they were meeting up most weekends.

By the time we had exchanged contracts, Roy was very frail and was unsteady on his feet.
On the day of our removal, Roy was now confined to bed for most of the day.
Jackie took me to Bluntisham in her car and Peter took Roy in our car which we no longer needed.

When we arrived in Bluntisham Roy got out of the car carrying a pillow and went straight upstairs to bed where he never came down again.
The carers were brilliant coming in every day to see to Roy’s needs.

Roy was on a morphine pump so he could give himself extra doses whenever the pain increased and got too much.
As time went on this got more and more frequent and dulled his mind more and more.

Peter and Jackie had now arranged a wedding date for the 22nd of August 1998 which delighted Roy and he gave himself a target to get past that date.
The wedding was going to be held in Swadlincote at Jackie’s church.
Whenever Peter visited, Roy would ask how long it was to the wedding.

Then on one occasion, Roy said to Peter “How did the wedding go?”
Peter replied, “It’s next Saturday, in four days.”
Roy was very much out of it and did not seem to comprehend the answer.
By this time he was a grey colour all over his body and face, including his eyes.

Then two days before the wedding Roy passed away.
Peter and Jackie decided to still go ahead with the wedding because Roy so wanted that to happen.

Peter and Jackie's wedding at Swadlincote.
Peter and Jackie’s wedding day. By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I travelled up to Swadlincote with a group from Bluntisham Baptist Church on the day, whereas Peter and Jackie had gone up earlier to complete the final arrangements.

The service was lovely and the last hymn was ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ accompanied by the drums. Peter and Jackie walked down the aisle on the last verse, which put an extra smile on everyone’s face!

They then went off on honeymoon but had to return for the funeral mid-way through that week.

The funeral was at Bluntisham Baptist Church and was very emotional and supportive with many relatives and friends there.

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