I loved listening to the stories my grandparents would tell about when they grew up. Times were so simple and my grandparents were wonderful storytellers.
My dad’s parents married later in life (for their era) and had a very interesting, but beautifully dedicated relationship. They complimented each other greatly despite very different personalities. Grandpa was a shrewd businessman with sparkly ice blue eyes and a huge, warm heart always welcoming and loving. Grandma was beautiful well into her 80s, determined and tough. Both had been tailors and Grandma continued sewing as a pastime. Even if they didn’t leave the house in a given day, both of them always dressed well, knowing how important it was to always look your best.
My father was their only child, so family get togethers were small, but important. We talked. We spent time together. It was wonderful. We knew we were important to them.
Grandpa was the storyteller, romanticizing his time growing up in Cleveland. He told stories of how tough it was during the Great Depression with immigrant parents. How hard his parents worked to support their large family. How loving the family was, particularly to him, the second youngest and only boy of six children.
One of my favorite stories was his description of seeing a beautiful young woman riding a street car in his neighborhood. He knew he had to meet her. He was determined to find out who she was and asked the streetcar driver what her schedule was so that he could “run into her.” It was a couple of weeks before he saw her again, although he rode the streetcar on her route nearly every day. Additional weeks passed before he had the courage to ask her to meet him for dinner. When she finally agreed, he realized that it was April Fool’s Day and then thought that maybe she was just pulling his leg.
They went out for one meal and my Grandfather was smitten. He knew she was the one for him. My Grandmother had been orphaned when she was a teen and never had dreamed of being married, so true to her nature, she was a tough sell. But she finally agreed and they married. Grandpa never looked back. He knew he had found his lifetime bride. Grandma was always her strong self and, although dedicated to him, always had her own opinions on everything.
My brother and I were visiting our grandparents the last time I heard my Grandpa tell this story. As he finished recounting his memory of meeting my Grandma, he and she both looked off into the room, obviously filled with thoughts of their life together. My Grandpa’s eyes were filled with love and memories. Grandma’s were filled with a million thoughts.
The silence was broken by my Grandma’s words, “Fifty years are too long to be with one person.”
Grandpa slowly looked over at her, as her gaze remained on whatever random spot she was focused on, and smiled.