Continuing the theme from last Sunday, today’s post is dedicated to my maternal grandparents – or Gran & Pa as they are affectionately known (smile). These guys have been married 60 years!! I give them both serious props for making it that long and still plugging along. I think it says a lot about their patience and persistence that’s for certain. So without further ado…
How they met: Through family. They both tell slightly different stories but from what I can piece together, my grandfather’s brother was kinda sorta “courting” one of my grandmother’s siblings. So they all met up at a community fish fry (it’s Alabama…it happens a lot) and the rest, as they say, is history!
Married: September 1953
About Him: My grandfather is 1 of 8 children. His father was a farmer (a bad one I’m told), and his mother was the true family leader (and the real farmer). Pa (as he is affectionately called) still lives with my grandma in the same house they moved into when they were married 60 years ago on his family’s old homestead. He has had his fair number of troubles throughout his life including a broken back (literally), prostate cancer, and a myriad of other health and monetary difficulties. He’s survived every single one and in retrospect, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him complain. Sure he’ll tell you all about it, but it’s usually more with pride than pity. Pa is always up for wheelin’ and dealin’, especially with livestock, and to this day you can never be sure what he’ll bring home next. If he had his way all of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would live within an easy walking distance from his house so that he could direct every move made. When I was younger he drove me nuts with this control thing and it’s probably one of the primary reasons he and I aren’t really that close. I know he loves me and I love him; we just get along better with shorter visits. Ironically, I attribute most of my control tendencies to him – so maybe really we’re just too much alike in our stubbornness (smile).
About Her: My grandmother was the youngest of 7 children and, sadly, the only one still living. She married my grandfather when she was 15 years old and he was a scandalously old 21. They met through community activities and I gather it was a rather short courtship. As Gran will tell you, back in those days it wasn’t all about love necessarily. Pa had a good farm and was well respected – both of which were good enough for her family and for herself. They were married in the local courthouse and had a fish fry that night for the families. A honeymoon was unheard of. She had three children and helped on the farm until my grandfather’s accident, at which point the farm was scaled back significantly and she went to work at the shirt factory (essentially putting pockets on those t-shirts you wear around). Gran has never left the state of Alabama, not once in 70+ years. I asked her once if she’d like to – she told me that she’d always wanted to go on the train across the west and see the national parks. But she couldn’t leave Pa or the “young-uns” that long. She is a remarkable woman in her loyalty to her family and her community. When I was young Gran prepared Sunday dinner for 14+ people every.single.weekend. She still cooks for all the holidays and always makes sure that everyone’s favorites are on the table, even if that means making more than one version of the same dish. Anything leftover is boxed up and distributed round to the neighbors or family members unable to attend or in need. The woman is a saint! She’s definitely the more soft-spoken (and level-headed) of the pair and she loves to read. She’s probably one of the best read people (at least in terms of fiction) that I know. Gran has survived so many heartbreaks (and a couple of heart attacks actually) that I’m in constant wonder at her patience, persistence, and positive attitude. She is certainly a remarkable woman. I think my brother got most of her attributes (he got all the good stuff…).
What I’ve learned: My grandparents are both extremely family oriented. They would do (and have done) anything in their power to help their family in times of need. Perhaps more than anyone else in my family, I’ve learned from Gran and Pa that your family is a support system (whether you choose to use it or not is another story for another day). I’ve learned that eternal optimism truly does exist and that there are some people that do truly appreciate the phrase “for better or for worse” in their wedding vows. My grandmother has been tested time and again throughout their marriage, but she always sticks by my grandfather – even if he is driving her nuts about something. While I hope to marry someone that I will cherish forever (more like my other grandparents who you’ll meet next week), it’s something I like to keep in the back of my mind – you shouldn’t stay in a situation that is toxic to you, but difficult doesn’t equal toxic. Faith that things will work themselves out and faith in one another are key aspects to making a marriage work over the (60 year!!) long haul.