Thursday, August 19, 2010

a weekend at grandpa’s. part three.

This is part three of a series of posts.  Find the rest here.

Part One.  Part Two


“Tell them the story about how you met mom, Fred,” said my mother, as the four of us sat in the cozy living room, a straight relic of the 70’s, clearly untouched by time, in the quiet of the evening hours.  The commotion of the day had ended, the tormenting toddler was soundly asleep, and my sister and cousin were watching Twilight from the laptop in the loft, sharing a pair of headphones, occasionally giggling and swooning—as girls do.

Out of his gentle mouth came the first sentence that shifted our attention to the reality of loss; the very reality of why he was moving out of his beautiful home. 

“Oh, well she would have been able to tell that story much better than I can.”  His composure remained strong, but in the inflection of his words, we heard both the loneliness he was now feeling  and the sweet love  of those memories. 

This is their story.

He was born in 1921. He remembers the great depression well.  He fought for our country in World War II.  He spent most of his adult years caring for his mother, never marrying.  He was the head supervisor of the successful box plant in town, a position and reputation that many respected.

Jump ahead about forty years, my grandmother, Irma, had recently become widowed, her children were grown and out of the house.  Fred and Irma both attended a wedding of someone from town.  Her son-in-law was playing in the wedding band. He was kind, gentle, and shy.  She was bold and opinionated.  She asked him to dance.  He was unsure of his dancing abilities, but agreed.    It all started there and months later, she was also the one who suggested they get married.  They did.

Both in their sixties, they had found love, a first of sorts for both.  For him, it was the first time being married.  For her, she finally found a loving, gentle, and kindhearted man who would fill her life with joy and goodness, much unlike the years prior.  My mom being seven months pregnant, with my brother and living in another state missed the wedding, because the doctors cautioned against travel at that point in her pregnancy.  She regrets it still.  It was a simple wedding and my grandmother wore a yellow dress.  Yellow was her favorite color.  My mom hates yellow.  It’s one of my favorites. 

Nearing retirement, Fred started construction on the beautiful lake house that would be their dream home.  It was finished by 1989, every detail so precise and full of fine craftsmanship, accompanied by the beauty of the blue Minnesota waters and grand trees.  It was their own haven.  In their home, little changed but time did not stand still.  Their children aged.  Their grandchildren started their own adventures to adulthood, marriage, and families and now the great grandchildren are coming and growing with each new day.  The world around them changed, but so much stayed the same here.   The decor looked  just the same as it had ten years before, with only the photographs being updated to announce the times.

As time continued, their age and its affects came too.   It happened first to her and it came in the form of a stroke.  And then another.  While his mobility wasn’t what it used to be and his vision was fading, they took care of each other the best they could as she attempted to rehabilitate and get well.  Things didn’t improve and in 2008, they said goodbye.

Death is certain and life is precious, and they shared both.  They just got a later start on it than most. 

As my husband and I sat in the living room with my mom and grandpa, listening to the sweet beginnings of their story, we squeezed each other’s hands, perhaps to hold back our own tears… perhaps to say, never go away. 

His wrinkled, kind face smiled a most tender smile and he said, “We would have been married 30 years this month,” and he paused, “I hope they were good years for her.  I know they were good for me.”



We squeezed each other’s hands again, even tighter this time… but this time, it didn’t stop the tears.




{Tomorrow, the conclusion of this week’s posts on our weekend at grandpa’s.}


  1. Oh, that's so sweet and touching. Almost made me tear up reading it :)

  2. What a sweet, beautiful story...

    I love that they still had 30 years together, even starting late...

  3. What a beautiful, beautiful story...thanks for sharing. Loved this:

    Death is certain and life is precious, and they shared both.

    Well said, my friend!


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