The sun shone on a mild fall day. A young man and a young woman walked down a dirt road. Scrubbed clean and fresh, they wore the very best clothes they owned. The minister met them at the end of the lane. He left them standing there and went to fetch his wife and children. After he returned, he said a few words and prayed a prayer. And my grandpa was married to my grandma....seventy years ago.
70 years, 7 houses (plus a barn they lived in while they built one of those--my mom assures me it was actually a house, it was only being used as a barn), 5 children who lived, 1 tiny little one who was born too early and did not, 7 grandchildren--one of whom died in a tragic automobile accident over a decade ago, 13 great grandchildren--the oldest of whom will marry his bride next Saturday, 70 gardens and 69 summers of canning--Because of her stroke, this was the first summer of my grandmother's married life that she didn't can, thousands of cows milked--they made their living putting milk on your table, hundreds of hay houses built in the barn by happy grandchildren, 1 magical Mimosa tree that transported same climbing grandchildren to far away lands, a succession of friendly collies who frequently smelled of skunk, 1 trip to Germany to visit their daughter who was then in the air force as well as some distant family relations, a life time of stories from my grandpa who NEVER forgets anything, countless Sunday dinners where there was always at least twice as much food as we could possibly eat--but never quite enough of Grandma's chicken and dumplings, dozens of chocolate ice cream cones bought at Nick Tanner's, 1 church where they were charter members and my grandpa has been a deacon for most of his adult life, 1 song they always used to sing at church--A Light at the River--I can hear it now in their voices; their harmony; the only way it will ever be right.
Today we honored them. Today scores of people came to say to them that it matters. It matters that they stuck it out. It matters that they have given themselves to others. THEY matter. They matter a great deal. In many ways, this has probably been their most challenging year. My grandmother's stroke in the spring has meant that, for the most part, they have lived apart. When I stayed in the hospital with my grandmother this summer, I remember watching my grandpa. He visited with all of us, but when he talked to grandma, his voice changed. I don't know how to explain it. But I could hear it. He had this tone, this way of speaking, that was only hers. She will go home to him in two weeks.
Today he gave her a gift. She dreamed one night that he had given her a ring for their anniversary. So, her little elven daughters set out, with grandpa's blessing, to make her dream come true. Today he placed the ring on her finger. She looked at it as if things were just as they should be. They were.
Other shots from the day:
Some of the beauty my mom cultivates. Is it any wonder I can not LIVE without flowers?
Great grandkids in their own magic tree. Tucker smiling at his favorite aunt. ;)
Seth stopping by to say hi. Father and Son love.
*Originally posted 5 October 2008. Postscript: My beautiful grandmother and my precious nephew Tucker have both relocated to Heaven since this post. I love the picture of her holding him. I imagine they are having quite a time together just now. Memory Eternal!