In the small town of Dumbarton in Scotland, an 80 year old widower is giving out roses to strangers. Stuart McWilliam expects nothing in return, he simply wants to share the memories of his ‘wonderful’ marriage to his late wife Marion.
Stuart and Marion were married for 57 years. Marion, whom Stuart fondly refers to as his “wee Marion Speedie”, passed away in December 2015 after a lengthy battle with dementia. He says he misses her every single day, but keeps her memory alive by handing out roses to local ladies and sharing their love story.
He shared Marion’s battle with dementia with a local reporter, “Marion had vascular dementia for 10 years. I called it the long goodbye,” he said. As difficult as this battle was, Stuart says Marion kept her positive personality. “She brightened up people’s lives and I thought it would make people happy if I gave out roses.”
Stuart says that he was inspired by the way Marion would interact with strangers, “She was always complimentary and it was always genuine,” he says. “She would tell a lady I like your hair or say to a little girl, ‘You are a beautiful princess’ and she meant it.”
Marion and Stuart went to the same primary school. He fell in love with her after returning from service with the army. “When I came home from the army, on the high street I saw this vision. I was standing there saying: ‘crikey’! A year later we would be married and the rest, as they is history.” The couple were married on Boxing Day in Dalreoch Church, and always resided in Dumbarton.
Reflecting on their time together, Stuart considers himself very blessed. “We had 57 wonderful years of marriage. I’ve got great memories and no regrets.”
Stuart is also a poet, and wrote this in honour of Marion:
Grief Encounter – a poet by Stuart McWilliam
We met briefly today,
Having a coffee in a cafe,
You were sitting in a mobility chair,
You smiled and I wanted to share.
Inner thoughts I was feeling,
From deep within my being,
The loss of my darling wife of fifty seven years,
Finding it hard to hold back my tears.
Then you shared your grief, I remember,
Your husband died last September,
In the midst of our sadness and grief,
We shared in that moment so brief.
Kindred spirits silently sharing our loss,
I gave you a single red rose,
In memory of my Marion sweet,
That is why I give out single
red roses to ladies I meet
Watch Stuart tell his story to BBC Scotland below: