‘I heard recently of an Orkney man who loved his wife so much he almost told her….‘ I heard this straight from the mouth of an Orkney man recently when I was at writing group. I thought it was so funny and so true. Orkney men aren’t always known for being hugely demonstrative with their affections. Orkney Beef could safely be described as a typical Orkney man. He recently said to me ‘I’ll tell you I love you twice a year whether you want to hear it or no’
He’s completely reliable, totally faithful and surprisingly good at choosing presents. But not overly sentimental; and talking to other friends, I know I’m not alone. As I sniffled my way through the final episode of Call the Midwife on Sunday, my dear beloved suddenly piped up ‘This is gey werchy tonight’ with a frown. (*translation: this is very soppy tonight) So that possibly gives you an idea.
However, I CAN remember when he told me he loved me more than my twice a year quota. It was two years ago this week. And he was dying…
I’ve talked about Orkney Beef’s brush with death before in A year ago today. In brief, he had been taken into hospital with septic shock, was in multiple organ failure, and was not expected to survive. He was about to be put into a medically induced coma and I had been called through to say, what exactly? Goodbye? I never did actually say goodbye, it was too final, but at the time I really didn’t know if it was going to be the last conversation I was going to have with him, and I vividly remember it.
‘Do you understand what’s happening to you Roy?’
‘I’m going to sleep’
‘yes, the doctors are going to make you more comfortable and help with the pain’
‘I love you’
‘I love you too’
Pansy (nickname) was his colleague at the time, and he wanted me to tell him that hubby wouldn’t be into work!!! I couldn’t believe his dying words were going to be ‘tell Pansy’ but I also had to remind myself that his brain was lacking oxygen and he had become steadily more confused as the day wore on. So confused in fact that he had publically said ‘I love you’ to me in a room full of people. To this day I still don’t know if it was the lack of oxygen or the drugs talking…..
Whilst Orkney Beef was in his coma he was taken to Inverness intensive care. For a brief period one evening, he was able to indicate that he could hear me when I spoke to him. He squeezed my hand and could respond to questions with a nod or shake of the head. He suddenly started pointing to himself. I thought he was trying to tell me that his stomach was sore or he needed a nurse. Eventually, he pointed to himself, then gave me a thumbs up, then pointed to me. ‘are you saying I love you?’ I asked him. With that he squeezed my hand several times to indicate that’s what he was signing to me and then signed it over and over again. I managed to get a video of him signing it which was very special and I could send it to worried friends and family. However, shortly after this, he became distressed and had to be sedated heavily, so for the rest of his time in the coma he was very unresponsive so there was no reaction or indication that he could hear us for many days.
Eventually, and against all the odds, he began to recover, and eventually a week later his intubation tube was removed and he was woken up. He told me he loved me as soon as he laid eyes on me. Crikey, three times in one week?! It takes a dying man drugged up to the eyeballs to declare his love for me. I’m a lucky girl.
But on the anniversary of his serious illness and simply because I’m the werchy one, I have to say how happy I am that he survived, how he’s my rock, how I wouldn’t change him for the world and in the words of Phoebe from Friends “he’s my lobster” Thank you for defying the odds Orkney Beef. I’m lost without you. It’s almost as bad as having you around 😉