Every time we would make the long haul up to Ohio, Grandma would make sure to have our favorite meal waiting for us when we walked in the door...no matter what time of day or night it was. Jeremiah would have chili, and I would have chicken and dumplings. Homemade dumplings at that. From scratch. She made a divine blackberry cobbler - in fact anything she made was divine. She would have breakfast cooked when we woke up; as soon as we were done eating that, she'd clean the kitchen and start lunch; and shortly after lunch she cleaned and cooked an elaborate dinner. We never went hungry at Grandma's house. And she never ran out of hugs and kisses.
At age 15, we went to Ohio to celebrate G&G's 50th wedding anniversary. They were so sweet and in love even then. They both came from big families - Grandpa was one of 7, and Grandma was one of 19...yep, that's not a typo, nineteen! So I can only assume they had their share of baggage and difficulties. When my dad and his siblings ask anything about their past and heritage, Grandpa gives vague answers, explaining that they "might find out something they don't want to know." What a smart man!
Shortly after the 50th celebration, Grandma began to get Alzheimer's disease. I'm not sure exactly the timing, but I know she was significantly struggling with memory loss at my brother's wedding almost 10 years ago. She also is a diabetic and has glaucoma, which has led to blindness in both eyes. Grandpa has been beside her every day, through every trial that she has gone through. He cared for her at home until he absolutely could no longer do so. She was at home in a hospital bed, and he dressed her, kept her fed, helped her to the bathroom, everything. Until one day he had a heartattack, and at that point it was decided that Grandma could best be cared for in a nursing home.
When she was admitted, the doctors explained that the next step in her progression of the disease was refusal to eat, and that she likely wouldn't be there for long. That was nearly 7 years ago. She's still there hanging on. And you know what? Not a day goes by that Grandpa doesn't go down to the nursing home to be with her. He wakes up everyday, takes care of things at the house, and goes at 10:30 to be with his bride. He's there til they put her to bed at 9 pm. She doesn't remember anyone, but I have a feeling she knows him. He'll say as he leans in to kiss her forehead, "How long ya been my baby?" and she'll respond in almost unrecognizable words, "Long time." He feeds her everyday, talks to her, and kisses her face many, many times. It's the sweetest thing I've ever had the opportunity to witness.
We were in town visiting this past weekend, and dad cooked lunch Sunday afternoon. Grandpa had been to church, then he came to the house to eat dinner with us and my Aunt Sharon, Uncle Gary, cousin Chuck and his fiance, Stacey. We were eating, talking, catching up, having a good time...as soon as Grandpa got done eating, he quietly and politely excused himself from the table, and said, "Well, I gotta get down to be with momma. Thanks for lunch." with a little chuckle. And that's that :: no matter who's there or what we're doing, he's gonna be with his bride. She is the most important person in the world to him.
"To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part."They said it 63 years ago, and they meant every word. Happy (soon-to-be) Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa! Thank you for being an awesome example of true love, and for devoting your lives to one another. What a blessing you have always been to me.
All my love,