With this ring... I three wed!

It's third time lucky for us!

Published by: Laura Hinton and Lucy Laing
Published on: 22 September 2011

What woman doesn't want the perfect big day? And this was certainly mine.
I felt a million dollars in my frilly wedding dress, complete with a pretty umbrella. My husband John looked so handsome in his grey top hat and tails.
‘You look beautiful,' he whispered, as the photographer snapped away. ‘Just like the first time round.'
‘You just have less hair this time,' I grinned. You see, this wasn't the first time we'd wed.
The first time had been on March 18, 1967, when I'd been 19 and John had been 20. Money had been tight, so we'd rented my dress and had the do at a club opposite the church.
We didn't even have pictures to remember the day - our photographer had somehow lost them! All we'd been left with were a handful taken by friends.
So months earlier, I'd entered us into the ‘most romantic wedding' competition that our local paper was running. I'd told how devastated we'd been to lose our wedding snaps... and we'd won!
After being pampered at the hairdressers, we'd had wonderful photographs taken at the church where we'd wed 18 years before.
Next, we were driven in a white limo to a posh restaurant. ‘It's been a fantastic day,' John laughed.
‘It's certainly been less eventful than the last one,' I chuckled, sipping my champagne. ‘Remember the panic we had getting my wedding dress back to the hire shop?!'
‘How could I forget!' he scoffed. ‘Susie almost peed all over it.' Susie was the cute Collie cross puppy we'd bought instead of going on honeymoon. i
A lot had changed since then. We'd had three sons, Wayne, Paul and John Lloyd, loved walking the dogs, or caravanning in Yorkshire.
It was on one of those holidays, a few years after we'd ‘wed' for the second time, that we snapped up a beautiful cottage in the middle of a Yorkshire valley. Perfect.
But John's landscape gardening business was in Lancashire, 150 miles away. He was training Wayne and Paul to take it over.
‘Why don't I stay here?' he suggested. ‘I'll join you in a few months' time.'
Except the move took longer than expected. A few months turned into a year, then two... I got used to doing things my way at home. By the time John moved home after three years, he drove me mad - especially stomping his oily boots all over the carpet every night!
We argued over every little thing until... ‘That's it,' I fumed. ‘I want a divorce.'
‘All right, but only because I want you to be happy,' he said, sadly shaking his head.
How had it come to this, the man I'd once loved enough to marry twice moving out?
The boys were all grown up, so we never needed to communicate. We only ever saw each other at family dos.
‘You're looking well,' John smiled at Wayne's wedding a few years after our divorce.
‘Thanks,' I mumbled, before scuttling off.
‘You miss him!' Wayne grumbled. ‘Just get back together.'
‘I'm happy enough on my own,' I snapped. I loved my job as a nurse, gardening, and had even been on a few dates.
Then one day I was doing some ironing when the phone rang. ‘It's me,' said a familiar voice quietly.
My heart stopped. ‘John?'
‘I thought you should know, I have prostate cancer,' he sighed.
John, my John, had cancer... ‘I'm coming to see you,' I said.
My heart was hammering the entire 150 miles to the hospital.
But when I walked on to the ward and saw John tucked up in bed wearing his stripy pyjamas, the past 10 years seemed to fade away. I wanted to throw my arms around him and never let go.
‘Hi! The doctors are hopeful I'll beat this cancer,' he told me. ‘Just need six weeks of radiotherapy, then daily chemo tablets... '
‘Let's forget our squabbles,' I smiled. ‘I'll be here for you.'
We spoke every day. Nearly losing John had made me realise what he meant to me and... fact was, my feelings were returning.
Four years passed. Then John needed a knee replacement. ‘I'll look after you while you're out of action,' I insisted.
For the next few weeks, we spent every minute together. ‘Remember when we first met outside The Plough,' he said as we watched Shameless DVDs. ‘Our dogs hated each other.'
‘We certainly got on better than them...' I flirted. Then stopped.
Like a switch flicking inside me, suddenly, I couldn't pretend any more. ‘I don't want you to leave,' I blurted out. ‘I-I keep wondering why we ever divorced.'
John stared at me for a few seconds. ‘I don't want to go, either,' he grinned. As we kissed, I felt like I was 19 again.
Exactly 44 years to the day after our first wedding, I found myself walking down the aisle once more. Wayne, 40, gave me away, while John Lloyd, 30, and Paul, 38, were best men. Our six youngest grandchildren were bridesmaids and pageboys.
Afterwards, we celebrated at a fancy golf club. Our eldest grandson Alex, 19, gave a speech.
‘You're both wonderful,' he sobbed into his napkin. ‘We're so happy you're back where you belong - together.'
Nothing could have been truer. I'm not letting John go again - our third time was our last trip down the aisle!
Jacqui Fletcher, 63, Grosmont, North Yorkshire