Last Sunday was the 17 July 2022. That day, 40 years ago, I walked up the aisle of Moyne church on the arm of my late dad, John. Tim was waiting, flanked by his brother and best man Colman, my brother Phil and his first cousin Ricky, who were groomsmen.
Behind me came my little sister, Bernadine, aged nine and flower girl. My bridesmaids were Patricia and Sheila, my first cousins, and Tim’s sister, Mary.
Tim wore a white jacket and was breathtakingly handsome. I wore a dress with a full skirt and a veil with a long train.
A flower girl had to have a job after all! The theme colour was lilac. I had made the lilac dresses and cake and was delighted with myself.
Tim and I were 23 years old, madly in love and ready to commit to spending the rest of our lives together. I know our parents thought we were too young but we forged ahead and have no regrets.
Life has thrown some tough stuff at us. Our youth and resilience served us well when Julie, our first born, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
We leaned on each other and found the strength and determination to assist our little girl.
We were lucky to have the support of both sets of parents, Maria and John and Denis and Lil.
Tim’s mother Lil is the only one remaining and still supporting everyone. Three years later, Diarmuid was born with Down’s syndrome and he was also a very sick baby.
I spent a lot of time in Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin and Tim carried the can minding our dairy farm and Julie while also making the trips to Dublin.
Then Philip was born 11 months after Diarmuid. To outsiders, it wasn’t the best plan. For us, there was no plan at all! A further 17 months later, Colm arrived. Was he planned? I’m afraid not!
Three years later, I miscarried baby Timothy at 20 weeks. He was planned. I had a longing to have another child without any drama.
It didn’t work out and this event was possibly the undoing of me. I found it very difficult to recover both mentally and physically from the loss of the little boy.
Tim and my little family sustained me around that time. Tim and I occasionally talk about baby Timothy. The hurt of something like that never leaves a couple.
In more recent times, finding out that I had just had a cancerous tumour removed that was both rare and aggressive was another body blow.
Tim and my children were there as my rocks during that tough time. I was lucky and two years out, I remain cancer free.
This is one of the reasons that has made reaching our 40th wedding anniversary extra special.
Things might not have turned out so well. It is important to celebrate when we can.
Our day started with the usual morning cup of tea. I took down the wedding album and we browsed through the lovely gilt-edged pages of photographs that were shot and bound by Seamus Butler in Thurles.
It is a precious record of our wedding. Ricky, who is now two, sat on my lap and learned about his grandparents’ wedding.
The 10 of us then headed off to Dunmore House Hotel in Clonakilty for our lunch. Tim and I are very happy to have reached 40 years. It is a real achievement.
No marriage is without struggles and challenges. The secret is in getting through those challenges together and talking to each other.
No matter what happened, we were and are still very happy and that is the joy of marriage.
Having our family all around us last Sunday made us feel very lucky.
Harmony in families is precious. Philip asked Tim at the lunch: “What’s the secret Tim, in getting to 40 years?” “Patience,” he replied. We laughed. I protested.
Tim is right though, patience and tolerance goes a long way to making a marriage based on love work.
Making time to do things together is important. Listening and supporting each other is a given. Hopefully we will enjoy many more years to come.