My grandparents have lived with my parents for the past few years. A fire destroying their Oklahoma home was the catalyst for the move. They were 86 and 92 at the time and lost just about everything they owned. Now they are living out their days with their few remaining possessions in my parent’s master bedroom suite.
On this particular morning, just like every other morning, my grandfather emerges first from their room with a job to do – make my grandmother breakfast. Every morning it’s the same thing, instant coffee and toast. Supporting his weight and keeping his balance with his walker, he gently and methodically moves through the kitchen gathering the necessary supplies. Once her bread is toasted and coffee cup full, he sets her plate and mug on the tray of his walker and carefully makes his way to their room to make the delivery. Mind you, he’s 95 years old.
After the delivery has been made, he comes back to the kitchen to fix his breakfast. A cup of black coffee and a bowl of cereal that’s drowning in milk. And. It. Is. Drowning. There’s so much milk it actually just looks like a bowl of milk, but just below the surface floats his cereal. He’s in no hurry. He takes his usual seat at the far end of the counter. Ironically, it’s the same seat where I used to eat my breakfast every morning when I was a kid. He takes his time. He eats every bite and drinks every drop.
About half way through his meal my grandmother comes out of their room to drop off her plate and mug in the sink and reports what she just heard on the news.
“Oklahoma won last night,” she says.
“Huh?” my grandfather replies.
“Won what?” he questions.
Filling out the story, she finishes her report saying, “The Miss USA contest. Miss Oklahoma is this year’s beauty queen.”
My grandfather doesn’t miss a beat. He doesn’t even hesitate with his response even for a second. It was as though he’d been sitting on it, waiting for months, if not years for the perfect moment. He replies, “I didn’t think Oklahoma had any more beauty queens after you left the state.”
Watch out! Grandpa’s got game!
The day before I overheard that conversation between my grandparents, our family spent the day at a beach near my parent’s house. Just before we left to head home, I saw an equally tender moment that rivaled the sweetness of the conversation between my grandparents.
As we were gathering our kids to go back to my parent’s house, an older couple in their eighties showed up to the beach. Slowly making their way from the parking lot to the water, they stop at a picnic table to kick off their sandals and rest a while.
At the picnic table, they sit as close to each other as they can. Leaning towards each other as they speak, their affection and familiarity are evident. They’re in no hurry. They just sit, soaking in the scenery enjoying the moment and each other.
Then, when they are ready, she goes first. Continuing the walk they started at the parking lot, she makes her way to the water. Stopping right at the edge, she puts her hands on her lower back and looks up at the hills surrounding the lake as the cool water laps against her toes. She glances back to see if he’s coming, then look down and walks in the water.
Stopping where the water is ankle-deep, she turns around to make sure he’s on his way. He is. While in stride, without saying a word, he asks how the water feels. Quietly, she says it’s fine and encourages him to come in with her. She turns and takes a few more steps. Slowly making his way, he meets her where the water is knee-high. Extending her arm, they join hands, and she helps him take a few more steps until they’re up to their waists.
They stand for a few minutes continuing the conversation from the picnic table. They splash water on their arms. They enjoy the view and each other’s presence. When they’ve had enough, they walk back to the table. Wrapping her in her towel they take their seats next to each other on the picnic table bench, again sitting as close to each other as they can.
With all of our stuff in tow, my final view as we walk off the beach, is her sitting with her head on his shoulder, and the two of them looking like young love birds caught up in a summer romance.
It seems like every week I hear of more and more marriages that are on the rocks, headed for divorce. Some have been married a few years and are already throwing in the towel. Others have been married for decades and have now “fallen out of love.”
As I reflect back on these two moments from the summer, I find that I desire what my grandparents and this older couple have – a lasting love that perseveres through the decades where affection and even flirtation are alive and well.
But the question that lingers is “How?” How does that happen? How do you get to the point where after 50 plus years of marriage you appreciate and enjoy your spouse more than you did the day before?
I want to explore this in my next post, but in the mean time…
What are your thoughts?
What are your experiences?
Where have you witnessed the type of relationships that you desire?