This post is an add to my previous post "Remembering Joyce Birdsall".
Over last weekend, I thought a lot about marriage, and how people stay together. Most of these thoughts were spurred on by watching B's Grandpa morn the loss of his wife of 60 years this last weekend. One scene has stuck fast in my memory, and this is my observations of the situation, because I didn't talk with Grandpa about what he was feeling. The scene is of Grandpa, this 6'2'' 80 year old man sitting hunched over in easy chair gripping a black and white photo of him and his high school sweetheart, later his wife, and Grandpa's crying. This was how he was choosing to remember her, as the sweet beautiful teenager he fell in love with, now again these are my thoughts.
While watching Grandpa that weekend, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a family member years before. The family member mentioned that Grandma and Grandpa had been bickering and pretty grouchy with each other, and it was trying being around them right then because they were kept arguing. It showed me that they were normal. They fought, and argued, and sometimes didn't like each other at all, but they stayed married. At the funeral, a grandson shared a sweet and funny story about Grandma and Grandpa. He said one time he was visiting them when the lived in Arizona, and Grandma was in the kitchen cooking and Grandpa and him were listening to a game on the radio. Grandma yelled from the kitchen, "Bill, turn down that radio", and so he did. Then a minutes later, Grandma said again, "Bill, I said turn down the radio", and Grandpa, without saying a word, turned down the radio again. The grandson turned to Grandpa and said, "Why didn't you tell her that you did already?" and Grandpa said, "That's why we've been married so long." Marriage is about compromise and making it work, not sweating the small stuff, and not making sure you are always right.
After the funeral, we went to the cemetery to have Grandma buried. I took some pictures, and watched Grandpa during the brief service at the grave. His daughters held his arms, and later his grandchildren sat with him when he wasn't ready to leave her, his beloved. When the it was time to say the final goodbye, Grandpa went over the coffin and layed his hand on the top, and with tears in his eyes, he started to bend one knee. There she was, the woman he had spent 60 plus years with, and all I could see on his face was that he loved her. In the end, it wasn't the fights or years of making it work that he thought of, but it was that he loved her and all the years together were worth it.
Marriage isn't just about two people, but it's about family, great grandchildren, friends, and all the other people in life that are watching to see if marriage can work, and if people can still can be in love after 60 years. Recently one of my brothers helped B put a new part in our car, and stayed for dinner after the work was done. While we were catching up and enjoying dinner, B mentioned that his Grandma had died, and that she and his Grandpa had been married for 60 years. Max immediately said, "You guys'll be married for 60 years" and I said "Yes Max, we will". Thinking back on B's family, partly because Grandpa and Grandma stayed together, they kept generations of their family close and tightly knit together.
B and I have a chance at being married 60 years, because we married so young. After this weekend, I am convinced that if I live that long, we are going to get there. Because in the end, it's worth it.