Stories

Gradual


Florence | Aged 80
Islington | December 2015

Born and raised in Jamaica Florence wasn’t that interested in boys as a young girl, only dabbling in the idea when she replied, at the age of 24, to an advert in a local paper for a pen pal. She closed her eyes and picked a man at random, that man was Roy, 4 years her junior and living 13 miles away in Kingston. They wrote and exchanged photographs but, in 1960, Florence left Spanish Town and her new pen pal behind to train as a nurse in England. Whilst she concentrated on her new life and career, Roy remained keen to continue their friendship; he wrote several letters, seeking out her change of address and then even moving to England himself in 1961. Florence remembers that, without mobile telephones, they were unable to find each other at Victoria Coach station on his arrival in London and ended up meeting at his home in Finsbury Park some 6 hours later! Even though Roy was tall and handsome, Florence wasn’t that sure about starting a serious relationship with him and limited her visits to London from her home in Kent, not exchanging even single kiss with him for several years. By 1964 Roy was getting impatient and proposed marriage to Florence after a meal at his home, a proposal which she rebutted and which he found difficult to accept, trying to gas himself in his room. Florence returned to Kent and wrote a letter to Roy to reaffirm her position, worryingly he replied only to say that he would set his affairs in order, a reply which led Florence back to London. Roy was out when she arrived, his landlady let her into his apartment where Florence found a note explaining that he simply couldn’t go on without her. Florence stayed with Roy that night to talk things through, one thing led to another and she found herself pregnant. Being 1965, they did as was socially expected and got married, and their daughter was born in 1966. Florence recalls that she took her final exams on the Friday and was married on the Saturday, their marriage lasted 49 years, until Roy passed away in 2014.

Florence grew to love Roy over time, it was gradual but it happened. He was a caring, helpful and supportive man that nursed her later in life when the arthritis she had suffered from her 30s became disabling. Roy left England alone in 2007 to live out his final years in Jamaica, he had wanted Florence to go with him and retire back to their home country, but she wanted to stay in England. They spoke once a month or so, something he found harder than her, until he passed away. Unable to travel to Jamaica Florence could not attend Roy’s funeral.

To hear Florence talk about her love lived watch the video below:
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