Before Grandma and Grandpa knew it years had passed and their son Ronald left home, married my Mom and had me. Becoming a grandpa in June of 1975 softened him so much to the world, and even more to his wife. The man who once killed her barn cats would soon care for them and even buy them food.
January 9th, 1992 marked them being married for fifty years. They had a large celebration for their fiftieth anniversary. At this point, Grandpa was done with having a mistress or more, he had retired and they had a much smaller farm. Much of it was my Grandma’s flower garden. They were happy.
They kissed often and Grandpa would often give her butt love pats or little pinches. They were still like kids, with crushes.
This is where I wish the story ended but it isn’t. This is the part where Grandpa does become a knight in shining armor.
Grandma started having more strokes and her memory began to fail her as well. He threw his back out trying to carry her around and in time wore himself out. Sadly, we had to put Grandma in a home and Grandpa’s heart broke.
Grandpa made sure she was in the best home possible after in-home care failed. She was moved a few times before ending up where he was happy with her care, and Grandpa made her a promise. The first day at the first home he promised not to leave her. To see her every day.
He did see her every day for years. He kept his promise dear. Every day he drove the hour and a half drive to see her, staying until she fell asleep, ran into closing hours, or his heart broke. His visits were never less than an hour long and could easily last up to dark before making the hour and a half long trip back home.
The gentleness and love he showed her every day and during every moment of their visits is more moving than any romance novel or movie ever could be. On days where Grandma Maxine was fully cognitive and he walked in her whole face lighted up and she does her best to smile for him. He always knows those days and grins like a boy as soon as he knows that she knows him. On those days he stays as long as possible. The other days he tells her stories about their family and waits for her to remember.
I always knew this would be how it would be between them until one of them passed or Grandpa was no longer physically able to make the trip to her. Two childhood loves, still madly in love, showing that love truly does endure all.
That is the story of my Grandparents romance.
My Grandma Maxine passed first. One day shy of their anniversary. It was January 8th, 2008. It broke Grandpa’s heart. She tried to hold on that one last day. We tried to convince him it did not matter, it counted anyway. When people say they can not imagine life without their spouse it must feel true. For him, it was also so very literal. Hardly a memory in his life, before she toddled into it. Never really knowing a life without her. They were one.
Without her, he was lost. Cancer invaded his stomach. We had a good last few visits, a chance to talk, to say goodbye. He was ready to see her again and died with only one large regret. There was one day when the snow was so bad not even he could make it see her. He tried so hard but the vehicle just couldn’t make it. He never forgave himself for letting her down, one day, out of years of days.
I was sure he would pass before Jan 8, 2009, that he would not be able to handle the pain of that day but he decided he wanted to have more birthday, so he did, because he was stubborn. He died March 29th, 2009. Per his request, he was buried in the navy blue suit he wore on his wedding day.
Legacy of Love
The day came were time and age no longer ravished them, regrets could wash away. Only their love remains.