We met 4th January 1961 at the Ilford Palais.
After 8 months in Cyprus with the RAF his tan and his sun-bleached hair stood out amongst the winter pallor of the Essex boys.
Of course, I accepted his offer of an escort home.
It was a bitterly cold evening and I shivered as I waited with him at the bus-stop.
He offered the warmth of his overcoat.
And that became the analogy of our family life with him, spent within the warmth and security of his all-encompassing coat.
Alan was home on Christmas leave and we only had 5 days before his return to the RAF base at Akrotiri, Cyprus where he would serve the final 8 months of his tour before his demob in August.
In those 5 days we knew this was something special and were talking of engagement and marriage.
On that last evening we lingered outside my front door until finally, he kissed my hand, said ‘I’ve got to go now but I’ll be back in August’ and hurried away to catch the last train.
In those months until his August demob we each wrote twice a week and got to know each other through the letters.
When he returned we were engaged within 10 weeks and saving for the deposit for the house we lived in for 40 years.
We married on 4th May 1963.
Alan was a kind man, a man of integrity. He was a family man. Brought up with 8 siblings he welcomed the arrivals of our own sons.
He worked long hours in insurance and then stockbroking, enduring the frustrations of the commute into London to give us a good and secure life.
I combined child rearing with a local job so had the best of both worlds.
The boys grew and we all played an active part in village life.
Inevitably the years passed and my male household expanded to include females of the species.
Mothers of sons might admit to an admiration of the culture of arranged marriages. As regards my own daughters-in-law, I couldn’t have done better myself.
Our sons progressed in their individual careers. Alan was the perfect role model for them and they gave him love and respect.
He said to me ‘If we wrote a list of what we wanted in our sons, we couldn’t add anything, could we?’ I agreed completely.
The house emptied and Alan and I grew closer. I had married him to be with him and 40 years of work got in the way. This was our time!
Expansion continued and we were grandparents. The children came in timely fashion, 5 of them over 6 years.
Alan retired 2 years before I did. He came to golf in his later years and found he had a talent for it. He enjoyed many hours out on a golf course in all weathers.
His golf time was my garden time. And I was able to put into practice the hints and tips regarding plants that I had absorbed from my father’s knowledge many years before.
On our retirement we moved to Norfolk. Closer to the grandchildren. We were so proud to see them grow into fine people.
In 2008 Alan battled illness and was the victor.
He nursed me with great patience during my own health problems.
In early 2017 he was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. Immunotherapy held it at bay for a year but he succumbed as 2017 became 2018.
His last hours were peaceful.
Towards the end he took my hand and kissed it and said – just has he had all those years before – ‘I have to go now’.
We both knew this time he wouldn’t be back in August.