The Girl Came From Somewhere After All


A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.

~Paul Sweeney

Today was a great day. I went back home (150 mile drive give or take) to celebrate my maternal grandparents' 65th Anniversary. The first time my grandparent's met they were on a double date. They weren't in the same couple on that double date, in fact if I remember the story correctly, Grandpa got stood up and was just following Grandma and her date around the fair, which is another reason that their 65 years together is even more impressive, in my opinion at least.

Today was especially interesting because I have not seen the vast majority of my relation in what amounts to three years. The last time we gathered was for Grandma's 80th birthday. There was a sea of second cousins that I didn't know or recognize and out of the 12 cousins 9 were there. This was a tremendous showing. My mother chose work over driving down and to a degree I can't blame her too much. Money is tight, but still how often does a couple see 65 years? The actual anniversary is June 1st, but with it being Memorial Day weekend, it had better odds.

While this was a wonderful time, I found it unsettling. I don't get to see everyone very often and when I do it's like a huge time warp minus the fun costumes and a step to the left. Grandpa is using a walker now and this doesn't work in my mind. My grandpa was always out working in the yard, sorting scrap metal, or doing something. The thought of him needing assistance baffles me. Grandma is starting to confuse some things. I found it funny when I flipped through the picture book and my fiancé's name was suddenly 'Keith' easily remedied but still it isn't the way of things. Both of my grandparents are in their 80s so these signs of aging shouldn't come as such a shock, but it becomes harder because I feel faced with the inevitable. Although, I will give the family total props, this is one of the few occasions that I did not hear one person say, "This may be the last time we're all together like this." Something that has been a horrible theme for the last few occasions.

There has to be one port in the storm for every person. For me that was Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was a safe haven through all the horribleness of my parent's divorce. Even when things were said that weren't good for a young person to hear (it's a divorce everyone badmouths everyone after All) it was still comforting to go there. I joke with my sister that she's Grandma's favorite while I'm Grandpa's so we have a monopoly on them. I remember sitting in the basement making wooden animals out of the firewood or climbing the apple trees in the backyard. The wood burner is gone as are the apple trees.

With all the memories of baking cookies and watching cartoons or drawing on the underside of the coffee table or pretending the ornately carved legs of the dining room table were horses, there is one memory that stands out. It was one of the last Christmas Eve's that the family all gathered at Grandma's before we got to be too many. Mom and dad had been separated for awhile and fighting again and I hadn't seen or heard from her in probably near a month. I was so sure that she was going to be at Grandma's though. How could anyone miss Christmas? Why wouldn't she want to see me? Dad dropped me off and I waited. Mom wasn't going to show. She was off with her current boyfriend and would later claim that she figured I didn't want to see her so that was why she did not go. I remember breaking down. I couldn't stop crying. In front of all the cousins, aunts and uncles, I couldn't stop. Grandma tried to make me smile and get a picture, but Grandpa stepped in. He told her not to and leave me alone. Mom got called and eventually did show, but the part of that night that I will always remember is Grandpa stepping up and defending me. That was why their house is always safe.

Congratulations Grandma and Grandpa! I know you never would have imagined 65 years or the sprawling family you started, but I for one am sure glad you did!

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