Yesterday, I had a very long chat with my grandmother. This is my father’s stepmother. She has been my grandmother for my entire life so, to me, my blood related grandmother Anita, was only able to give me her good genes. But my grandmother, who I call Mamaw, has given me infinite amounts of wisdom, and love, and well, presents. But last night, she told me a couple stories I had never heard before.
Let me preface this by explaining that she was a career woman before it was cool to be a career woman. She intentionally didn’t learn to type because she knew if she did, the only job she would get was as a secretary. She turned down a proposal to a nice, decent, red-headed movie theater manager, because she simply couldn’t have an intelligent conversation with him. She didn’t marry until she was 45. And to top it all off, she was 4’9″ tall. Now, note all of this in the context of the times, and you can see how extraordinary she was, and is. She is currently 81 years old and still works as an executive in Advertising. She is a little spitfire!
Well, over the years she had been set up on several blind dates. One such date, she opened the door to the would-be suitor to find a man so ugly, she simply couldn’t go out with him. Luckily, she was still in her robe, as she was running late, and her hair was a mess. She quickly concocted a cold, and told the man she was sorry. She had no way of getting a hold of him to let him know she was sick. Could he please give her his number, and they could reschedule? She even told him she was too sick for him to come into her apartment! Needless to say, she figures in her robed, desheveled state, he probably wasn’t too thrilled about his prospective date either, and she never heard from him again.
But then one day, a man called. She had never even heard of this man, Nathan. He called out of blue saying his friend had gotten my grandmother’s number from his girlfriend, who it turned out was my grandmother’s friend. Flabbergasted, and irritated, my grandmother, with all of the spit and vinegar she could muster, I am sure, told this Nathan character, that at 40 years old she was done with blind dates. She was happy with her life and her career, and she was just going to be an old maid. She did NOT want to meet him, she was NOT aware her number had been given out, and she was done with the conversation. My grandfather simply laughed at her, and eventually she must have cracked a smile at the voice on the other end of the line, because she finally agreed to a date.
My grandfather married his first wife, Anita, in his 20’s and they were together about twenty years, but at the all too young age of 45, my grandmother Anita died of emphezima. Leaving my grandfather, and their two sons who were only 19 and 16.
Six months later, my grandfather’s friend had given him my grandmother’s phone number. Papaw was a not what you would immediately call a handsome man. He had a big belly, a constant scowl on his face, he was ony 5’6″ tall, and he wore a hearing aid because, while he was in the army, an explosion near him had caused him to lose his hearing in one ear. So when he showed up on my grandmother’s doorstep, she almost shut the door on him. She couldn’t believe her luck. Standing in from of her was a short, fat little man who was hard of hearing. But they went to dinner anyway. She was particularly perturbed by the hearing aid. Her mother and her father both had one, and she was not pleased at the prospect of yelling to express herself to her boyfriend, too. But at some point during the dinner, she had to begrudgingly admit, she was having a good time. The conversation was great, and she couldn’t ignore that. My grandfather was a very intelligent man and he was able to keep up with my grandmother’s near-genuis brain. Something I think she had been searching for.
So five years later, they were married in my grandfather’s living room. My grandmother pacing around before the ceremony wondering what in the world she was doing. Her life was fine. She was happy. She didn’t need to be married. Why was she doing this? As though he had read her thoughts, my grandfather came over and soothed her by saying everything would be alright. It would be harder on her, than on him, but everything would be fine. She laughed, and they got married.
My grandfather passed away at 74, but 13 years later, my grandmother is still madly in love with him. She still morns on his birthday, and the day of his death, and she still speaks with such loving words about him. They of course, had their share of fights, but in the end, their love for each other was exactly what they both needed. They were best friends, and to hear my grandmother speak of him, is to hear what it means to have a soulmate. My grandfather was lucky enough to love twice in his lifetime, but my grandmother was lucky enough to love for eternity.