April 26th, 1993, I was one heartbroken little girl. Mom and I came home from school to a ringing telephone. I heard my Mom say, “Oh no, your Dad?!” and I knew my sweet Granddaddy was gone. There was no warning. Nothing had prepared us. He was at church the day before, looking completely normal. He went to take a nap and then left this world forever.
Up until that point, I had never encountered such loss. It was a lot to process at such a young age and I didn’t know how. So, I ran from room to room screaming, “No!”
After my Dad came home from the hospital, we packed up and drove across town to Granny’s house. I hope I never forget how she looked that day. She was obviously shaken and heartbroken, but she was standing, stable, and clearly covered by God’s grace. She simply said, “I’m okay.”
I’m sure she cried herself to sleep on many nights; and, almost two decades later, she still spoke of him as a great, respectable man who took good care of her.
She loved him well until she breathed her last breath on October 17th, 2012. Needless to say, I always wanted to love a man the way she loved him. ~smile~
As I celebrate what would’ve been their sixty-ninth anniversary, I remember a few lessons I learned from their love story.
- Marriage requires leaving what’s comfortable and clinging to each other. Granny was seventeen when she and Granddaddy married. He met her brother in World War II, saw a picture of her, and began writing her letters. A year or so later, he came to visit her when he was on military leave and she fixed him a table full of food. (Granny was a smart lady. ~smile~) Two years later, he returned to the states and travelled down the road a few hundred miles to see her again. He arrived at her parents’ house on Friday, January 18th. They got married at the preacher’s house Wednesday, the 23rd; and, on Friday the 25th, they boarded a bus and travelled back to Granddaddy’s hometown – New Bern, NC (i.e., my hometown). ~smile~ Can you imagine your entire life changing that quickly? She packed up and followed him.
- Marriage doesn’t have to be perfect to be valued. As much as I want to believe my grandparents were perfect, I know they weren’t. They had their disagreements. They had struggles as they cared for their ailing parents. I imagine they wanted to shake each other occasionally, but they still managed to leave a legacy of love and commitment to their children.
- There’s always time for a therapeutic hug. My Granddaddy was a rather short man with a size 6 shoe. By the time I was born, Granny was quite a bit larger than him, and she wore a size 11. Before he would leave for work in the morning, she’d give him a bear hug. I mean, a serious bear hug. It is one of my earliest memories. (Granny did give some amazing hugs.) Sometimes couples just need to give each other a quality squeeze. We all need the touch and connection.
- Consider how you want to be remembered. It’s easier to seek our own comforts in the short term, but do we want to be remembered for our selfishness, or do we want to be remembered as someone who loved sacrificially – as someone irreplaceable? Granddaddy took great care of his family and is respectfully remembered. Granny was a kind and diligent homemaker and is lovingly remembered.
These are just a few of many lessons I learned from my Dad’s parents. I’m thankful to have been blessed with such great role models. ~smile~
Happy 69th Anniversary, Granny and Granddaddy! You are both missed! Thank you for inspiring me to have a good and Godly marriage. Some lessons are priceless.
What lessons did your loved ones teach you about marriage?