“Your wife and mum” said the warm, compassionate, bespectacled, Asian cardiologist, “has just survived a cardiomyopathy brought about by pneumonia” – she arrested shortly after admittance – but her condition is now stable and we expect her to recover in due course – following surgery to the now damaged area of her heart. She is a fighter of no equal, looking at you all now, I fully understand her valiant and determined struggle for life – she will survive, family love sometimes ensures longevity throughout even the toughest tests – even situations as grave as this flirtation with personal danger has undeniably been- love remains as the essential driving force between life and death, I have witnessed this sublime phenomenon so often throughout my career”.

There was no mistaking the true meaning of his words – but suddenly our much-yearned for sense of relief – that of which had been infiltrating our anxieties for many hours – had finally arrived, we were going to make it – and I utilize the term ‘We’ without reservation or apology, my mother once referred to the fact that every man and his family are in actual fact a private company, throughout times of adversity particularly – there is no letter ‘I’ in the word team – because that is what we indeed are – a team, pure and simple – as all families should be!

My wife has since come through the required treatment and surgery and although several restrictions are in place as to what she can and cannot do, we nevertheless have consigned all forms of negativity to the bin-of-no importance, enjoying our retirement years to the fullest – simple pleasures that at one time appeared as trivial and non-inspiring activities, have now taken on a complexion of sheer beauty, it is therefore not for us, the retirement issue regarding our entwined lives, but the life in our retirement – and by God, it is such a superb experience – life has that effect, no matter the position we sit on the generation ladder – we are blessed from her survival – and thankful for the opportunity to share our retirement years together – and for a very long time.

In summary, the only other experience I endured regarding domestic heart problems lay with my Uncle Tommy, a coal miner for many years and one who anticipated a lengthy old age liberty from the shafts that had claimed his services from the age of fifteen.

As he entered his fifties, the inhumane strains of recovering coal from Scottish mineral reserves for more years than he cared to remember, ultimately took their toll – the ravages of such an occupation proved too much for a man who had been stricken, similar to many of his peers and colleagues, and plagued with frequent bronchial and lung disorders, ultimately succumbed to a massive, life-sapping heart attack in the summer of ’76, a mere three weeks into the retirement era that he so richly deserved – I wept uncontrollably for several days following his distressful passing – I continue to think of him even to this day.

I suspect that there are many across the globe, as I scribe these frail and feeble lines this evening, who too have suffered loss or life-changing consequences caused by premature heart submission of a loved one, my thoughts are with you.

There are, I have little doubt, countless others in numerous locations spread across the universe – who know full well that one does not need to venture down a coal mine to fully comprehend what real darkness truly is – let there soon be light in your world too.

Enjoy your retirement all – last chance saloon, drink in and be merry!

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