Who are the Grands?

They are 90 and 93, and they live each day like there is no tomorrow. Because there may not be. Their minds are not what they used to be and their bodies are breaking down bit by bit, but inside those old minds and bodies they are the same independent-minded young people that forged their own way in this world and made a good life for themselves. This is both a blessing and a challenge, as you'll see in the posts below. Welcome to our journey!

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Monday, January 6, 2014

First Love, Last Love

It's been a relatively quiet day with the grands. Relatively quiet means several hours of phone calls to hospice, nurses, and doctors but no visits, errands, crisis phone calls, or emergencies. In this relative quiet, I've been thinking a lot and feeling overwhelmed with looming responsibilities. Can I really do all this? How am I going to manage all of this? By the grace of God, go I.

I've also been thinking so much of some things that happened Friday morning. That morning, we were not sure if Grandpa was going to improve. He kept saying that he was ready to die. He kept crying, asking why God didn't just take him home. I told him that I didn't know but that I imagined that death was something like birth. It often required a long, painful labor but then there was the joy of new life.

When Grandma realized that he might not make it, she began to accept it and she started talking to him about final things that she wanted to say. She stood by his bedside and took his hand. She said, "No one could have done better than you, Wally. You were always such a good provider. You have done so well through the years. No one could have done better." Then she paused and asked, "Wally, have I been a good wife to you?" Grandpa answered in a voice choked with tears. "The best."

By the afternoon, the danger had passed and Grandpa had improved enough to get transferred out of ICU. Then Grandma started telling stories to the nurses. Let me tell you, everyone loves my grandma's stories. Even the palliative care doctor that visited with Grandma and Grandpa on Friday told me today, "We were happy for him to go home, but we were also a little disappointed that they weren't here. Your grandma has such wonderful stories."

Each time she tells a story, I learn a new detail of it, too. Like the story of when they met 76 years ago. She was telling one of the nurses about it. Grandma said that her friend and she had gone to a box supper. Grandma explained that that was when people bring food in a box and then it gets auctioned. That was a way for the churches to do fund raising. Grandma and her friend didn't bring a box, but they went to the supper to enjoy the games and the fun. One of the games was a cake walk and the prize was a pie. Well, Grandma and Grandpa were partners and then her friend was partners with Grandpa's friend. Their friends won the cake walk so the four of them went out to Grandpa's car to eat it.

Grandma was very impressed that he had a car of his own. Grandpa was impressed, too, because he sent a note to Grandma along with his little sister the next day. Grandma and his little sister, Aunt Ruth, rode the same school bus. Neither of them could remember what the note said, but it must have been nice.

Grandma said that her dad didn't much like Grandpa at first. Grandpa would drive out to see Grandma but that didn't please Great-Grandpa at all. Grandma said that Great-Grandpa couldn't understand what a city boy like Grandpa who had his own car would want with his daughter. Grandpa said, "I knew what. I was in love."

They were married two years later in Piggott, Arkansas on Thanksgiving Day. Again, they had to go against Great-Grandpa's wishes. Grandpa asked Great-Grandpa if he could marry Grandma but Great-Grandpa said no, because she wasn't old enough. Grandma was just 16. Well, you had to have your parent's permission to marry in Missouri but you didn't in Arkansas. So Grandpa and Grandma drove down to Arkansas on Thanksgiving Day and got married. That was November 23, 1939. Grandma says that Great-Grandpa was was upset but that Great-Grandma was relieved that Grandma had married a nice boy with promise. Grandpa says that his dad just shook his head and said, "Just a couple of kids."

After 74 years of marriage, I think it's safe to say that Great-Grandpa's worries were unfounded. In fact, in later years Great-Grandpa came to really love Grandpa.

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