So we’re heading to Palm Desert this weekend.
Ah, the sunshine! The swimming pools! The shopping!
Except we’re not so much staying at a luxury resort as sojourning in the retirement community where my parents and grandparents currently dwell.
This means of course that instead of crowing, “Hooray, I’m on vacation!” I’m more likely to shout, “Holy crap, I’ve been run over by an octogenarian in a golf car!”
My father once explained to me the rationale behind the local residents saying ‘car’ not ‘cart’ however I couldn’t concentrate because I was too busy calculating the total number of shades of blue he’d managed to assemble in a single outfit.
(It was three.)
But enough math. Because by now everyone knows I absolutely hate it. And also that I absolutely adore my family. However, this trip to the desert affords yet another opportunity to smile at and laugh with the different generations at work among us.
(There are four. One more than the number of ‘blues’ on Dad.)
Which is completely off topic because we are not, in fact, convening over Father’s Day Weekend to honor the papas.
(There will be five: Dad, Grandpa, Bill, my brother-in-law Randy, and my Uncle Kurt.)
No, we are all of us gathering together with our families in celebration of my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary.
That’s right. 70th. And since my spelling is better than my math, I’ll write it again like this:
Shall we pause to consider that for a moment?
(It’s okay…I’ll wait…)
And then begin again, but with a shift in tone that’s more appropriately awed.
Because I can’t pretend to know how it feels to have awakened beside the same person for seven decades; to have rejoiced and mourned, hoped and lost, laughed and cried, lowe-ed and high-ed with a partner I’d met at such a young age.
Grandma was 18 when she said, “I do.” Grandpa was 23.
As their grandchild, I have been privy to stories about their first thirty years of marriage and have witnessed for myself the life they have continued building together since my birth. In many ways and for countless reasons, they serve as my role-models.
Not because of their perfection but because of their endurance.
Over time, across miles and through a millennium, for almost three quarters of a century, in the face of countless wins and losses in the games they love to play, each has the other.
I remember them long ago singing a Beatles’ song with lyrics reaching far into the future:
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”
And their answer now is Yes. They did. And they do.
Last spring I wrote about my first seventeen years with Bill; and I believe I have my grandparents, my parents and Bill’s parents to thank for each of these lessons learned.
When we choose to surrender to love, to make ourselves vulnerable, to truly need another person, we agree to the inevitable sacrifice and beauty that attends this lifelong decision.
I often marvel that any couple remains married at all, so complicated and flawed are we as human beings. So I am grateful each day for my grandparents’ example, established long before I was born, that survives as inspiration for me still.
And for Bill.
For Jack and Karly.
Yes, for all of us who know that love abides.
(I mean seriously. Does our family look good in blue, or what?)