Archive for the Family Category

An Incredible 70 Years Together

Posted in Family with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2012 by Once Unwanted Girl

Imagine being alive for 70 or more years.  That is at least 25,550 days of experiences and memories back logged in your mind.  Now consider being married to the love of your life, and being healthy enough to experience your 70th anniversary with him or her.  Amazing right?  Despite the advancements in health and medicine, this really isn’t a common occurrence for everyone. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, statistics show that in January 2012 the average person’s life expectancy is 78.5 years.  However, there is a couple in Cabot, Pennsylvania, who are celebrating 70 years of love and life together! I am proud to claim them as my own wonderful grandparents.  My gramps will be 95 next December and my grandma is 90.  Despite their age these two individuals are as sharp as tacks and as happy as clams.

They recently moved into a great assisted living home and spend their time playing cards, reading and taking advantage of the activities at Concordia.  Today they have an interview because they have been married longer than anyone at Concordia.  My Grandma is already to be interviewed in her snazzy red top with her red jacket and black sacks. And gramps is matching in his black slacks and a red turtle neck.  She said, “We both have had a good life. God Bless us we have lived long enough to have a 70th Anniversary!”

I guess you may be wondering how it all began. Well, my Gram and Gramps started going to the same private Lutheran school named Saint Luke’s but Gramps was in 8th grade and they didn’t really know each other in the beginning. My Gram said that they got to know each other at a youth group for people 18 and older.   They met and hit it off and began dating in a large group.  As time went on Gram said, “It wasn’t like it is now…we dated in groups and then eventually he and I paired off.”  She said that there are a lot of circumstances now that makes things a little different but she understands.  My Gram and Gramps dated for several years before my Gramps finally proposed to her.  The reason my Gramps proposed was because he was in the Army and was about to be sent off to Europe to fight in World War II so he wanted to marry my Gram before he went away.

I asked my Gram, “How did Gramps propose?”  She said, “I was sitting on a chair at my house and nobody was around and he knelt down and asked me to marry him but he was really bashful about it. I of course said yes!”  While laughing she told me that she picked the 14th of February to get married because she wanted to make it easy for Gramps to remember their anniversary and Valentine’s Day.  She told me that on her wedding day there was snow on the ground but the sun was shining bright. The only wedding pictures that were taken were outside by others because they didn’t have a photographer so there were no pictures taken in the church.   After they were married, they went to Niagara Falls for their honey moon.  You can tell in her voice how much she appreciates her life because she mentioned how their entire bridal party is no longer alive and she is blessed to be here to celebrate their 70th Anniversary with Elmer.  After my Gram was married there was a period of time when she didn’t see my Gramps because he was away fighting in World War II.  So I asked her how she coped with not seeing her husband for 3 years and she said it was very hard but she tried to stay busy.  She worked as a government inspector during the war, taught piano lessons, Sunday school and had girls nights with her good friend Maria.  Gram said that every Friday and Saturday her and Maria would get together and go shopping or see a movie.

Before Gram and Gramps moved into their house they lived with my Gramps’ parents while their house was built. The crazy thing is that up until last year they have always lived in the same house. I think that is a big reason why it was so difficult for them to move and leave the only home that they have known for the last 65 or more years.  Change is such a difficult thing especially after that long.

Two Thanksgivings ago we had a last supper like dinner at their nice Cape Cod house. It was something special that we all wanted to do for them before they moved to Concordia.  Looking back I think having this Thanksgiving dinner together was such an important thing not only for them but for all of us.  We had the dinner in the kitchen that I had spent so many summers watching my Gram clean veggies from their enormous garden and baking famous homemade bread which has been passed down to my mom and will one day be passed on to me. I remember how difficult that weekend was for everyone especially my Grandma.   The look on her face just seemed so sad and confused. One moment in particular my aunt Barb was going through all the kitchen stuff to figure out what everyone wanted to keep and what was going to get dropped off at Salvation Army.  My Aunt pulled out a glass container that had pictures of oranges on the outside and my aunt said, “Let’s get rid of this you never use it.” All I can remember is my Gram’s strained voice as she said, “No that is for my juice.” It really made me sad to hear her upset. I can’t imagine what she was experiencing but I suppose one day I will go through the same with my children. It has to be so hard to have someone going through your home, your stuff and feeling like the independence that you once had has diminished.

This memory stand out of mine from last year on their 69th anniversary. I was out to eat with my boyfriend and I gave them a quick ring to wish them a Happy Anniversary.  I congratulated my gramps and said, “Wow that’s a really long time to be married” and my gramps responded, “Well, I don’t drive any more so I don’t have a choice (with a chuckle)!” My Gramps was actually still driving up until about a year ago. That’s pretty good for someone who was over 92 years old but since then he decided to quite driving but my Gram mentioned today that she still misses him driving her around and said, “We can’t do things like we used to but your dad told us that it’s a part of getting older. I suppose everyone goes through this.”  As sad as this may sound it’s the inevitable truth and I feel that we must find solace in counting our blessings and appreciating our lives.

I then asked her if there were any interesting things that she could share with me.  She said that my Dad, Aunt Barb and Aunt Sharon were all 4 years apart and born on a Leap Year which is kind of interesting.   She remembered that when her kids (my dad and aunts) were young they had chickens for pets and tied strings to them and walked them around the yard.  She also told me about a story when her and my Gramps went up to the mountains with the kids to explore and she had packed a really nice picnic style meal.  Once they reached their destination and were ready to eat she opened up the pack and Gramps had forgotten to pack the spaghetti salad that was a big part of the picnic. She laughed after the story and said there were many more stories but she couldn’t think of them all on the spot.

Another memory that she shared with me actually included me but I was pretty little and don’t remember much. They had a 50th anniversary celebration and renewed their vows.  Apparently I was a flower girl but I don’t remember because I was about 3 at the time.  She said that my brother Nate lead my cousin Kalli and I to the front of the church and then sat in the front seat with us. I kind of remember bits and pieces but it mostly includes playing Monopoly and playing in the gym of the church during the reception. Of course since I was 3 years old at the time it makes sense that I would only recall the play time memories.

When I asked what her advice would be for young people today who want to someday get married she said, “Just make sure that you love each other and also consider the lives you’re leading to make sure you are compatible.  DON’T ever hold grudges and you will get along just fine. We have had ups and downs like everyone else in their marred life… you learn to get over that.  It’s important to have God in your life. Do what’s right and do everything you can while you’re alive. “

Our conversation ended with her saying, “We have our aches and pains but we are still going and the doctor says we are in good health!” We said, “I love you” to each other and hung up. I wish I could have given her a big hug but since we are 8 hours apart it was not possible today.  If you have grandparents nearby please do me a favor and give them a hug today!

I will end with this final thought. Appreciate your grandparents and try and learn about their lives.  Get to know them while you have them because one day they will be gone! I’m not going to lie I had to do some digging to get the content for this post.  Before today I didn’t know most of what I have written about them and I really feel closer to my Gram now that I know more.

So on this Valentine’s Day, I am proud to be where I am in life and I hope you are as well! It’s important to be you and appreciate things. I have a wonderful family who has instilled values and morals in me and I hope that one day I can have a marriage like my grandparents. Here’s to Gram and Gramps and hopefully more healthy and happy years to come!