My pap is also in the ICU today, as he had a heart attack earlier this week. Please send your prayers along to him and my gram.
I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately, as I’ve been thinking about my own upcoming marriage (just about seven months to go, now) to the love of my life. He and I talk all the time about how we just want to be sitting on the front porch together in Adirondack chairs at eighty years old, sipping lemonade and watching our great-grandchildren play in the front yard. This is what my grandparents have.
I know a lot about the “facts” of their courtship, way back in the day, as I somehow managed to swing my long-ago high school senior project into being a scrapbook of them from the years they dated. (I fluffed up some great talk about the importance of legacy in family, grandparents in children’s lives, and learning about the past. Best. Project. Ever.) I know that my pap was in the Coast Guard, as he tried to enlist in both the Army and the Navy during the war, and they were so full they wouldn’t let him in! I know Gram claims she wasn’t bothered by him enlisting. (Now, I just keep thinking about how devastated I would be if my fiance were to sign himself up and go to the Middle East–it hurts just thinking about it. That’s a brave life, and I’m not brave enough for that.) She says “that’s just what everybody did.” I know he got stationed at Atau, Alaska, for a year. It’s a small outpost, and there were only about a dozen men and a dog.
I know silly, so-very-important details, like how Pap had to do his Pre-Cana (Catholic marriage prep) as a correspondence course because he was in the Coast Guard at the time. I know Gram once forgot the hot dogs when they went on a picnic with another couple who was close friends with them. (Pap said they just made toast for lunch with the hot dog buns they did bring.) I know they used to go dancing at the fire hall. I know Gram liked to do cartwheels.
I know that the personalities I see as their granddaughter really weren’t all that different when they were in their teens. She’s always smiling, always positive, always been a talker, and is very social. He’s more reserved, slightly mischievous, and quieter. But they work together, oh so well. It takes just a second to see how much they love each other.
Luckily, Pap has always enjoyed taking pictures, and so our family has a bunch of photos of the two of them from awhile ago. It’s so fun to see the same small smirk and intense eyes on my pap then, as I see now, and that identical beaming grin on my gram’s face.
People get older. I know this. And people get sick sometimes. I’m acutely aware of this fact, as well. But I also know how incredibly special that bond is between two people who are truly, honestly, in love with each other. Fifty-nine years worth of in love, and a legacy of five children, thirteen grandchildren, and an ever-growing number of great-grandchildren.
There are a lot of awful, sad things in this world that keep many people from hitting fifty-nine years together. Sometimes, when I read too much news coverage, it actually feels like a small miracle that any couple can get there at all. I’m selfish; I want that miracle for my fiance and myself, too.
Every single day you get to hold that person’s hand, every day you get to open your eyes and see them there, every single good night kiss, those are all miracles.
So, happy anniversary, Gram and Pap, and I’m praying for your big 60 next year.