I have been a bit reticent regarding carrying on my story since Olive`s death. For me the trauma of having to come to terms with the realisation that all our plans for retirement were come to nought with her passing.
My main thoughts however was to keep myself positive. I realised that the feeling of dejection experienced in the first few days after her death should be challenged. Yes, easy to say but putting it into effect was another thing.
I had been working part-time as an engineering cleaner with a company in Livingston for several months before the onset of Olive`s illness. I took voluntary leave of this to look after her but returned when things looked brighter. I did leave again when she passed on but returned after two weeks. I would finally quit the job within a few months.
With a start being made to my daytime schedule, I was left with the problem of nights and especially with the autumn and winter to come. Night time was especially a period I dreaded. Coming in to the house I always expected a call from upstairs, `Hiya! ` I would respond with a similar greeting. This was a thing of the past.
To offset the loneliness of this time of the day, my son allowed his Irish setter, Lady to stay with me. I had always thought a lot of this dog. A real family pet. Lady had mothered a litter of pups a year before this so she had this maternal instinct.
She was a God send. Whenever I returned home, she would be waiting at the door for me. Sitting around, I would sometimes be feeling a bit sorry for myself. With my hands to my eyes, I would often sob, and before I knew it, she was up beside me nuzzling her head between my hands. I took this as her understanding of my feelings and this was her way of consoling me.
Bedtime and I allowed her to sleep in my room with her bed in the corner. What the heck does this mean to a dog other than to join me in mine? I relented for it was some comfort to feel her lying across my legs in the semi darkness.
A drawback however was the time it took her to settle. Just when I would be getting to the drop-off stage, she would suddenly arise and re-adjust her position by twirling round. and round. Being a big dog, this was exerting a few pressures on my legs. At last, after a few nights of this, I banished her to the top landing outside the bedroom. Don’t think she appreciated it for she always looked up at me with her forlorn eyes questioning me on this.
The result of this banishment brought home to me the fact that I must be improving. Anyhow, after some six weeks, I returned Lady back to my son. She had indeed been a solace and carer.
Alan, my son came up with a suggestion that it would be great for me to get out on a Monday evening with him and his two friends, Grant Rollo and Ian Russell. I of course knew them both from their boyhood days.
We resolved we would go to the rugby club for a beer and a session of pool. The club was always quiet on Mondays so we got the table for as long as we wanted it.
This went on from mid 1998 right through to early 1999 and then it became more intermittent. This was to be expected. Again, it was another contributive factor in my effort to lead a fuller life.
Another was undertaken within a few weeks of Olive’s departure. I set about compiling her life story, albeit, in my own limited fashion to the best of my ability.
An important period of her life was when she was evacuated during the War to Linton near Kelso to stay in the church manse. She was taken in by Mrs Ritchie, the wife of the minister who at the time was on war service as a padre. The church was being administered by a retired minister, Dr Patrick.
I didn’t know much of this period in her life apart from what she told me. To resolve this, I contacted the Church of Scotland head office in Edinburgh. This was more in hope than expectation. I explained what I was about and asked of Mrs Ritchie.
Olive at Linton, 1940, front right With my parents and children, 1966 Us, 1988
I was informed that she had been widowed for sometime and she now stayed in Juniper Green with her daughter and her family. I was given a telephone number. Calling this, I spoke with her and again explained who I was and what I was searching for. I was cordially invited to visit her.
A few days later I presented myself at her home and was greeted by her son-in-law who ushered me in. Here I met Mrs Ritchie who, it turned out, was now blind.
After some tea and a good chat, I left her with her promise that she would dictate some of her memories to her son-in-law who in turn would send them onto me. This she indeed she did.
I progressed the book rapidly and now have it typed and printed and contained in a folder titled, `My Olly Bolly`
Another task I set myself was compiling the series of letters between Olive and me in 1958 when I was temporarily working in Tilbury a couple of months after our wedding in November 1957. We wrote each other after receiving each others earlier letter.
I have to admit that committing them to print after so many years lying in a drawer was very traumatic. I kept reading them in the present tense just as I did all those years ago. It was just as if she was still here.
At the time we were both distressed at our separation but at least it was temporary. Reading them now I was even more distressed knowing that the separation was permanent.
However I resolved I would complete the job, and in between bouts of emotion, I duly did.
I eventually fulfilled all the tasks I had set myself and now began to seek out other time consuming business.