Phil McGilvary is set to meet his auld pals from the pit (most of them a lot younger than him, in their 70’s) for a game of dominos at the former miners welfare club, recently re-opened after vandals, high on something, set it on fire. This will be the last time Phil sees his muckers before his now debilitating emphysema forces him into the nursing home he has been desperately trying to avoid so that he can remain with the love of his life, Betty.
The 96-year-old announced in May that if his health continued to decline it was inevitable that social services would recommend that he receive residential nursing care, after many decades of looking after Betty, who has suffered intermittently from depression and anxiety since the untimely death of their only daughter Debra in a car accident, as well as fundraising for local charities, helping out at the local pensioners club, doing a bit of shopping for one or two of those that are housebound in the street, and laterally, despite his age, working three mornings a week at the Foodbank that opened beside the shops last year.
Before the emphysema got too bad Phil was nominated by two of the charities for a citizen of the year award, and had his photograph displayed in the local paper receiving a certificate of merit from the Provost. He also became a minor local celebrity briefly when he was featured in a short TV news feel-good piece about sprightly pensioners. Phil was a bit embarrassed about all of the fuss. Folk that know him know that that sort of thing is not his style. The lads at the social club had some fun with that, teasing him for weeks.
Sitting chatting to Phil in his usual corner seat at the club he reckons that during the many years since the mine closed he has completed around 56 charity fundraising events. When pressed he couldn’t put a number on the amount of days he has spent carrying out voluntary unpaid work in his community.
On Wednesday, he will meet with the care home manager and his assigned social worker to see whether they have a place for both him and Betty. Phil, who isn’t sleeping well at the moment, as a result of his breathing difficulties and the worry of a possible separation from Betty, is determined that after 66 years of marriage they won’t be separated now, at this stage of their life together.
On announcing effectively the end of his active life Phil was praised by his local Councillor for his many years of voluntary service, and the ladies of the local Woman’s Guild, along with the volunteers at the Foodbank organised a wee coffee morning and a presentation of a lovely bunch of flowers to Betty which Phil was very grateful for.
Prime Minister Theresa May, having finished singing the national anthem to assorted extremely wealthy holidaymakers in a hotel in Lombardy, when asked about Phil’s retirement into a care home said “I’ve never heard of him.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, when he was asked, said “Me neither.”
Happy retirement Phil and Betty, together, you’ve earned it x