Riverside Glen celebrates the love of Jim and Vera Robertson
By Kristian Partington
The love of Jim Robertson’s life walked into a theatre in Aberdeen, Scotland in the summer of 1950. He was an electrical technician working behind the scenes and Vera, a dancer from Liverpool of striking beauty and charisma.
“It was love at first sight,” Jim says, looking back to the meeting long ago that would set the course of his life. “As soon as I saw her I said to the theatre manager, ‘See that girl in there, I’m going to marry her’ and that’s how it happened.”
Thankfully the show Vera performed in ran for 23 weeks, plenty of time for Jim to begin walking her home in the evenings after a performance or rehearsal, getting to know his future bride. Just before Christmas that year, a mere six months after they first laid eyes upon each other, they were married and they’ve been the anchor of each other’s life ever since.
In late November, team members at the village of Riverside Glen first realized that Jim and Vera would be celebrating a monumental 65th wedding anniversary. Vera has lived in the village for the past four years, supported by the team there as she faces the changing realities that come with some cognitive impairment. Jim is by her side practically every day, and the team has grown to love them both for the spirit of kindness they embody and the genuine devotion they feel for one another.
Collectively, the team decided to mark the anniversary with something special for the Robertsons. “It’s a rare occasion to be celebrating a 65th wedding anniversary,” says hospitality supervisor Deep Jassal, who helped put together a surprise anniversary dinner in the library on the special day. Rose petals covered the linens upon the table, team members had picked up flowers and prepared a beautiful two-tiered wedding cake, and when he realized what the team had prepared, tears began to fall down Jim’s cheeks.
Deep recreated the meal Jim and Vera had on their wedding night with a fine-dining spin and he’d discovered that one of the couple’s favourite songs is The Anniversary Waltz, which was lovingly sang by Hilda Melbourne and Sandra Adderly-Melbourne, a mother and daughter who both work as housekeepers in the village – Sandra’s sister, Genia, accompanied on violin, adding an extra touch of romance upon the evening.
“As soon as the first words came out, Jim put down his fork and tears came running down his cheeks again,” Deep says. “It was just amazing. He’s there every day and you can feel the love they have for each other.”
There is no question in Jim’s mind as to where he belongs. He knows that Vera faces challenges every day, but her eyes are still alight when he arrives for tea each morning, and she holds his hand with the same tenderness today as she did those many years ago while walking home from the Aberdeen theatre.
“I have to be with her all the time,” Jim says, thinking of the cherished decades alongside the dancer who stole his heart a lifetime ago, his voice quivering with emotion. “When I’m not with her, I’m lost.”
There is immense beauty and inspiration in a love so honest and pure, Deep says, and the team was honoured to show their pride and appreciation for it with the gesture of an anniversary dinner.