From Maggie Gilbert
True Love the Old-Fashioned Way
My grandparents met the old-fashioned way. I mean old-fashioned in the truest, most genteel kind of way: they were formally and most properly introduced by a mutual acquaintance.
This was in Sydney, Australia in the early 1940s. World War II had greatly impacted on everyone’s lives, but some things didn’t change. Men and women were meeting, stumbling shyly into each other’s arms and hearts, and falling in love.
Young men, soldiers home on leave and ultra-dashing in their uniforms, had a devastating effect on young women, and my grandmother, Ailsa, sweetly pretty and curvaceous, was not immune. She was captivated by the diffident charm of a tall, gangly young soldier named Hugh, with a mop of dark hair and the rather curious nickname Sandy. Ailsa assumed this was just the Australian penchant for contrary nicknames, like calling a red-head ‘Blue’. She soon discovered it was actually a nickname given to Hugh when he worked in a sand quarry prior to the War.
After a quiet courtship, Ailsa and Hugh were married in June 1944, a sedate, plain affair due to war rationing. In May the following year they welcomed their son, Gilbert, who would grow up to become my Dad. Despite their desire to expand their family, Gilbert proved an only child, and they eventually fostered a little girl, a daughter for them and sister for Gil.
Despite the hardships of the time when they met and married, or perhaps because of them, Ailsa and Hugh were a devoted couple, indulgent parents, and doting grandparents. They remained steadfastly in love until the end of their days.
Maggie Gilbert can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a writer, even when she was otherwise occupied. She’s been an executive editor, an equestrian journalist and worked with horses for the Modern Pentathlon event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Currently she’s an administration officer with an Agricultural Society by day and a writer of romantic stories by night—an ideal combination. She lives on a property in country NSW with her family and dogs.
Maggie’s YA novel, Riding on Air, is a poignant young adult romance about following your dreams and realising what really matters.