The Last Word

I don’t usually focus on family members in this column and that’s not because I like all the attention for myself. It’s just the way I am.

However, this week there must be an exception. I must talk about a certain family member.

And we’ll name him because he deserves all this column space to himself for at least one week.

Geoff Rickard. He’s my husband. Of 40 years last weekend. How about that?

Forty years married to the one man. Is that an achievement worth devoting a column to?

And here’s the really interesting bit. When I married him on November 30, 1968, I had spent just six weeks with him and barely knew him. How about that?

An explanation: I had actually known him for nine months, but he was in the merchant navy and our relationship had to blossom via pen and paper. Letters, in other words.

And not all that many of them because he could only post them when in port and that wasn’t all that often.

However, when I walked down the aisle to meet him, in a borrowed dress in a town not my own (he was in port in Sydney about to sail off to the unknown, decisions and arrangements had to be made quickly), I was never more certain of making the right move.

Without wishing to make you female readers jealous, I have to say that, despite not knowing him very well, my instincts were spot on. I married the perfect man.

He’s loyal, devoted, charming, well-mannered, tall, handsome, generous, kind, loving.

He is also my staunch supporter, my wise adviser, my best friend and a dutiful father to our three offspring.

He is a man who can be depended on to save my life or do the dishes.

But here is the part that will send a bolt of pure white envy through all you women: he’s a handyman.

Oh, the bliss of living for 40 years with a handyman.

Never once have I had to change a light bulb, screw on a door knob, clear a drain, fix the gate, plug a leak, patch up a hole, paint a wall, vacuum the car.

He can chisel, saw, drill and buzz.

He can spread a pile of tan bark on a garden faster than I can ask him to.

He can mix cement, mend a fence, build a bed head, prune a bush, grow a tree, make a pond.

If called upon he could pluck a chicken, stuff a turkey, skin a rabbit.

He baths the dogs. And puts drops in their ears and ointment on their paws when needed.

He never lets me take out the bins.

He has built doll houses, cubby houses, pedal cars.

For our six-month wedding anniversary he made me a pair of brass candlesticks. I still have them.

When we bought our first house, and had little money, he made all our furniture. The beautifully crafted polished-wood dining table he made in 1972 is still in our family today.

He soothed crying babies in the night, changed nappies (even the disturbing ones) and gave our son and two daughters an upbringing that sees them successful and independent today.

He really is that good.

But enough mush. Suffice to say, if my 40th wedding anniversary wish is granted it will mean that anti-ageing breakthroughs, scientific discoveries and ever-new technology will keep us both alive for another 40 years ... and that I never have to put out the bins.

-- Read more of Ann on and

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