Greg would have been 65 today. He would have been officially retired today (although he took early retirement ten years ago on health grounds). It was a retirement we both looked forward to, although he always had a premonition he would not make it to sixty. Well, his dad died aged 57 of a massive heart attack whilst in a swimming pool so Greg always assumed all his life that he'd go in a similar way. It's true, Greg did have heart trouble for the last five years of his life with all the factors against him (heredity, smoking, diet and stressful job), but ironically enough his heart was the strongest part of him in the end. It was the alcoholism that killed him. Every other major organ failed, but that heart just kept on ticking to the very last of his sixtieth year.
At the height of that crazy roller-coaster of alcoholism (detox and short periods of sobriety followed by even longer ones of alcoholism), I could not wait for a time to come when I would be free from him and the alcohol and have peace back in my life. Yet, four years on, I miss him. I know now, it was not HIM I wanted gone but the alcoholism. But I also understand now that he had no control over it. It controlled him. He was depressed and I was too wrapped up in dealing with the alcoholism on a daily basis (throwing out pails of water from a sinking boat) to talk to him kindly and get him to see what he was doing to himself. I would either snap at him or ignore him as I tried to keep up with the practicalities of our life - running the household, dealing with financial matters and the care of our daughter, while he just drank and drank into oblivion. In the end stage of his alcoholism, he either shouted or passed out. I hoovered round him, talked over him and went out without him. Physically and mentally, he was a broken shell of the man I had married. Time is a great leveller. It has put things in perspective and made me see things now from a different angle. Sadly he's not here to see his official retirement or to enjoy the years ahead with me. His choice in a way, but I also know he tried to change, but simply didn't have the willpower to do it.
I often wonder what he would have done in his retirement, if he had not chosen to drink himself to death. Maybe a little freelance work, visits abroad to widen his horizons or catch up with colleagues. Long walks. Lazy pub lunches in the countryside. Visiting friends and relatives. Writing one of the many ideas he had for a book. The thing is, I don't actually know. I'll never know now. Nor will he. That's what I find sad.