When I asked for recommendations of past Letters Home to post, this was the first one suggested. It is vintage, December 2006. A lot has changed in that time, most pertinent to this Letter, both of my Grandparents have since passed away. I miss them.
This month marked Clinton and Sally Thompson, my Grandparent's, 60th Wedding Anniversary. Echoing my kid's sentiment, I have to admit my first thought was 'Wow! They ARE really old' followed by a sense of awe. Sixty years is a long time! It feels like it is going to take me that long to pay off my student loans, but it also seems like I've been paying them forever (obviously I do not have a clear grasp on how long sixty years is).
Sixty years is ten times as long as I have been married and nearly six times as long as the average marriage will last in this country. Sixty years is twelve times my daughter's age and about four and a half times my son's. Sixty years is a lifetime of knowing that, no matter what, they each have the other at their side.
My grandparents' have never struck me as a tender, romantic couple. They have always been more… well… functional. For me, growing up in a generation that largely feels that romance has been kidnapped and held for ransom by greeting card companies, these are far from words of criticism. Grandma does the dishes and Grandpa dries and put them away. Grandpa makes maple syrup and Grandma makes it into sugarcakes and cream. They are partners, coworkers, allies: a fine team of horses pulling a plow; not a fancy sleigh with bells on the harness.
In the little room just outside my grandparent's bedroom there are pictures. One is of my Grandpa standing in the snow with a wide smile, a picture from about 60 years ago. Ask Grandma about that picture and you might uncover, dare I say, a tone of romance. I've heard it! Looking at that photo of Grandpa in black and white, Grandma has told me of the color of his eyes so vividly that I could see the color shining back at me.
In the movie "The Princess Bride" there is a scene where Buttercup, the maiden, and Westley, the farm boy, realize that they are in love. Buttercup asks him to fetch things, and to each request he replies "As you wish" and does so un-begrudgingly. Their eyes meet when he fetches her a pitcher and the narrator declares it "true love". In my minds eye, my Grandfather is that farm boy. He has always gone to fetch the mail, milk from the barn or vegetables from the garden. He has always done so un-begrudgingly, sometimes even handing them off along with a soft kiss on Grandma's cheek. It is a show of tenderness. If they were Buttercup and Wesley sixty years later, the narrator would still declare it "true love".
Every couple is different, and what works for one may not work for another. When I look at my Grandparent's relationship I do not so much look for guidance as inspiration. Congratulations Grandma and Grandpa. I am in awe!
I hope this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…