The greatest of these is love

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!”

Yes. 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:

Seventy. Ith.

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?)

77 thoughts on “The greatest of these is love

  1. So beautiful. (How cute are your grandparents??)

    It’s been 12 years for Scott and I, and I would use endurance to describe our marriage, too. That ‘keep-going-ness’ underlined by respect. I love this…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…

    Lovely, lovely post, Julie.

  2. Di

    As we are about to celebrate 29 years of marriage, Phil and I revel in your grandparents’ example. Happy Anniversary to them and may the photo shoot be fantastic

  3. Your grandparents are just the cutest!
    I also love to hear the stories of long married couples, and it sounds like you are surrounded by wonderful examples of love.

  4. Thanks for making me cry, you.

    SEVENTY years. I cannot even fathom.

    Happy 70th Anniversary to your adorable grandparents.

  5. Wow. 70 years. That’s amazing and your grandparents are adorable. Blue is definitely their color.

  6. 70 years?! Wow, congratulations to them. I imagine that keeping children quiet and tame enough for a retirement complex should make for an interesting holiday. Have a great trip! 🙂

  7. Shanan

    They are amazing and what a beautiful couple! Happy 70th anniversary! here’s hoping that the rest of us can make it last, we could learn a lot from them.

  8. Joe

    Seventy years of marriage – it’s so far out of my frame of reference I can barely comprehend it. It’s an amazing achievement in a time where too many marriages end in divorce. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Endurance. Yeah.

    My parents are celebrating 49 years next week – in the midst of bar mitzvah mania – as in on the day of Tech’s day, and they are positively batty over each other. Still. It’s. Crazy. They look at each other with love. Wash the dishes with love. Fold the laundry with love. I don’t know how they sustain it. Truly. Because there are days I want to be single again. I really do. Just me.

    (That usually changes after he apologizes.)

    But I can’t imagine 70 years of togetherness. I admire it, but I can’t picture it. Plus I’d be 101 if it happened, so…

  10. So sweet, my friend. I hope you all wear blue this weekend. So beautiful. xo

  11. They are adorable. I love a man with his won fashion sense. Once we went to Menard’s..yes my life is really that exciting… As we stepped at of out vehicle I actually looked at Stuart. I said “what have you got on?” Camo shorts with a green plaid shirt. He said”do I look stupid?” I said “no, but your ensemble does. Camo is not khaki.” Just then I noticed my niece and her husband in their truck. I walk over and say “I did not dress him.” She said “I just said what has Stuart got on?” LOL Men- clueless but loveable in blue or camo. Congrats to the grandfolks!!

  12. Definitely wear matching blues all weekend long.

    Happy 70 years to your grandparents. That’s amazing and wonderful and lovely. Scott and I will be 95 years old when we get there. We’ll probably be wearing purple to match our golf hover cars.

  13. SEVENTY. ITH! Wow. I am (almost) speechless! Your family is as beautiful as your writing. (Which is breathtakingly beautiful, just in case that came out wrong…like my first childbirth.) Many blessings to your grandparents! What is the 70th anniversary? The Denture Cream Anniversary?

  14. Mel

    They not only look good in blue, they look GREAT! They truley are a lovely couple and an inspiration!

  15. How cute are your grandparents!! How great is this news! 70 years! Just wonderful! Erin

  16. Your family looks amazing, especially in blue.

    And you know, those Beatles really had something with some of their lyrics. Sure, feeding and needing at 64 are something, and then, all you need is love.

    I love how much your family loves.

  17. Amazing – both your grandparents’ enduring marriage and your post.

    How are you always so good?

    Gah.

  18. Nikki

    I love stories like this. Right before I was married, I videotaped my grandparents and great grandparents telling the stories of how they met and dated and married. It was a special moment since I only had one side of grandparents that were still a set. I think those videos will always be treasured in my family.

  19. 70th! How very impressive. Happy anniversary to them!

  20. KLZ

    David’s grandparents celebrated 70 last year. It was truly awe-inspiring. Congratulations to another inspiring couple.

  21. We Scandos looks AMAZING in blue.

    Happy 70th! What a milestone! Love conquers all! Huzzah!

  22. Beautiful tribute! Happy anniversary to your grandparents! And they do indeed look fabulous in blue! No math required…..

  23. What a feel good story about marriage! I love the picture of your grandparents!

  24. b e a u t i f u l
    Hilareous.
    Witty.
    Heartfelt.

    ~~~you pretty much have it all, Julie.

    Damn you. xx

  25. What beautiful grandparents you have. I absolutely love these kind of love stories. These are the BEST kind of love stories.

  26. Happy Anniversary to the couple who puts the B in blue!

    And the C in commitment.

    And the I in inspiration.

    And of course, the L in love.

  27. What a beautiful tribute to them, and they are so dang cute too. Husband and I got married at the ripe ole age of 19 and we’ve been together 16 years now. It’s always a work in progress, and I think when it’s no longer a work in progress is when the trouble can seep in. You are so lucky to have grown up with such great role models for marriage!

  28. Kir

    yes, BLUE is the Color of your family for sure.

    70 years, wow and wonderful. I think that if you find someone that loves you, that it is a miracle. Here’s to your own particular miracle inside your beautiful family.

    xo

  29. The cuteness (and the blue) are pretty awesome, but the anniversary is staggering. Having just coasted over my 7th, I’m awed times ten.

  30. Abby

    How lucky you are, Julie, to still have your grandparents. And, 70 years? TOGETHER? I marvel at the thought.

    Jace & I have known each other since our freshman year of college–if you count the 9 years we spent playing the game of “When Harry Met Sally,” we’ve known each other for 24 years and been together as a couple for 19. Even THAT is hard to wrap my brain around. Time does fly.

    Anyway, congratulations to your grandparents and better they wear too much blue clothing than have that blue hair thing going on! 🙂
    Enjoy–no, RELISH–this time you have with them. You truly are so very lucky.

  31. So awesome that your grandparents have been married for 70 years (and for the record, they look amazing)! Makes the 8 years that my husband and I are approaching look like stretching exercises for the journey.

    Have a wonderful time celebrating with the family, all 4 generations of them.

  32. Yep, adorable in blue.

    What an awesome thing to be celebrating! Mind those golf cars though!

  33. Oh, congratulations to them, over and over and over again.

  34. “Congratulations” to your grandparents, and “thank you” to you for such a well-articulated tribute to enduring love.

  35. 70. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I want to hear their stories! XOXO

  36. You all look BEAUTIFUL in blue! I love, love that your grandparents love each other so and have endured joyfully through those 7 decades together. What role models you truly have…

  37. your family looks awesome in blue! Seventy years, that is absolutely amazing! They look so happy, and young! It must be love that makes them radiate so.

  38. Congratulations. That is fantastic. Please tell your grandparents that some guy in LA wishes them well.

    I love that you blogged about this, but I am biased because I have have blogged about all of my grandparents quite a bit. I was privileged to still have one living grandparent until I was 42.

    They are a blessing.

    On a related note, one set of my grandparents were married for 76 years and my grandfather told me to pay careful attention to any couple who hit 70 years or more because he said they knew something more about life.

    So, that clearly describes your grandparents and again let me say congratulations. It really is worth celebrating.

  39. What a wonderful reason to risk getting run over by a golf car!

    I love that you love your family so openly and definitively! Enjoy the celebration. Yes, you’ve had some terrific role models.

    Thanks for such an “upper” about long-lived marriages. My husband and I will, God willing, celebrate 32 years of marriage this year.

  40. That’s many years of emotion, up and downs, general bonding and shades of blue!

    I love to hear of these lasting relationships in our world where people change partners faster than they do underware!

    Thanks Julie!

  41. Seventy years kicks ass!

    I remember my grandparents’ 60th. They lived several years beyond that. But didn’t make 70. I don’t think.

    Your grandparents are gorgeous. I love old people. They’re all beautiful to me.

  42. I love a celebration of LOVE. I’d say 70 years is VERY deserving of a serious party or at least some quality family time. Great picture and a wonderful tribute.

  43. kim

    SO beautiful. xo

  44. They look wonderful in blue! Congratulations to them! And you are funny. I like funny. Strike that…I LOVE funny.

  45. This is magic right here. Like, art. Magical art. And truly inspiring. Even the blue clothes. I love this so much I want to wrap myself in it.

    Happy forever anniversary to two amazing people.

  46. A visit here is always a treat! I loved this!! “Not because of their perfection but because of their endurance.” That’s my favorite line. 🙂

    And could the picture with the blue outfits be any more perfect?!!

    Congrats on 70 years to them!

  47. Not only do they look good in blue, they just look good! What an amazing celebration!

  48. Jeepers there can’t be many couples that make it to their 70th wedding anniversary. It would be interesting to know how many other couples lived to celebrate their 70th.

  49. A gorgeous tribute to your grandparents. And love. And the color blue.

  50. I LOVE THIS POST. For so many reasons. Starting with the fact that I have been to Palm Desert and stayed at one of those retirement communities, so I can picture the scene totally. But mostly I love it for the story of your grandparents. Fantastic.

  51. There really are no words, but maybe more of a bow your head in reverence …
    Such a beautiful thing.
    My parents have been married since early 1964, they hold hands and my Dad calls my Mom, Dollface … sweet xxx

  52. Awww! 70th?! That’s wonderful! And now I must change clothes and wear something blue.

  53. We are closing in on 5, which feels like 70. So 70 must feel like 900?
    Just kidding, that is quite an accomplishment.

    Have fun in the desert. My aunt lives in one of those places there, too. The golf carTs always crack me up.

  54. Jennifer@KiddiePoolMommy

    Wow. That is amazing. I can’t imagine sharing my life with someone for that long. And they are ADORABLE!

  55. I can’t even get my mind around 70th wedding anniversaries – it’s an amazing amount of time to travel together. Here’s to their journey!

  56. 70. Wow. That is amazing. And beautiful. Lovely tribute. I wish them many more years together and much happiness.

  57. Awwwww. So lovely and so beautiful. What a great legacy for you. Have fun on your trip and watch out for those cars!

  58. I absolutely adore this. 70 years together is so amazing. They look so young too. My dad’s parents celebrated 60 years 2 years ago and then my grandfather passed away last year. My mom’s parents will celebrate 60 years next month. It is so hard for me to fathom being together for so long with someone. Enjoy your trip!

  59. 70 years married is really something. They do both look very nice in blue as well.

  60. Happy Anniversary to your grandparents! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. This post, like all the others, rocked. This time I didn’t spew my coffee. This time my eyes got teary. You are awesome at stirring up emotions, Julie. Thanks for making me think and *feel.*

  61. Awwwww!! Congratulations to your grandparents…could the be any more adorable together??

    My parents celebrated 43 years of marriage this year and I’m just in awe of them! They are such an inspiration to me! I can only imagine how you feel looking at your grandparents!! Enjoy your time with your family!

  62. It’s stories like this that remind me how amazing this life can be.

    Enjoy your vacation and your family time.

  63. What an absolutely gorgeous ode to love.

    (Happy 70th to your grandparents! Awed, indeed!)

  64. Beautiful. A 70th wedding anniversary is a whole lot more romantic than a wedding, if you ask me. They are a beautiful couple.

  65. Wow! The celebrating couple look great! What a wonderful accopmplishment! I just stopped by from SITS to say hello; hope you find time to return the visit.

  66. 70th?!?! That’s crazy and awesome. Have a good time.

  67. Wow. That’s awesome. The outfits AND the marriage. (okay, mostly the marriage). seventy years? they need to publish some how-to tips for the rest of us. I’m going on 14 and thinking “um…er…so now we just do this for the rest of our lives?”
    hmm. maybe if my husband were more of a snappy dresser….or had a golf car!

  68. Love, love, love. I can’t imagine those many years. And getting married a bit later in life, will I see that? Maybe not. But I’m dammed well gonna try to see more than 60 years together. You too?

  69. Weepy. And smiling. The very best combo. What a love story! We should all be so blessed.

    As for the blues… Mark dresses this way, too. Green and green or blue and blue always go together. Who cares if he’s grabbed 2-3 (or more) competing shades of one color? As far as he’s concerned, it all matches. He has, after 15 years,learned to at least ask me if his choices work (and the answer is always, no, no you cannot leave the house like that).

    You know, as I’m writing this it occurs to me that we HAVE to stay together for 70+ years, because I am all that stands between the outside world and Mark’s bizarre inability to coordinate colors.

    Have a great time with your family!

  70. It’s official. I want to be a part of your family. I look so good in blue.

  71. This post and the endurance of your grandparents’ love for one another is awe inspiring. My favorite line? – “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.” Yes. That.

  72. I love this…seventy-ith…pretty amazing. My favourite part of this story though is that you counted all the different shades of blue in your dad’s outfit.

  73. Four generations is such a gift! To see my son with my grandparents is probably one of my favorite things about parenthood.

  74. This is just gorgeous, Julie! Seventy years, wow. And they still have their arms around one another for happy photo ops! I was impressed that Mike and I are hitting the five mark this year. Or our “fifth” if you would prefer.

    From now on, I’m using your grandparents as my example too.

  75. and I just wrote about 7 years with cort. I don’t know if I will make it 70. no really, physically I don’t know if I can live that long!

    it’s amazing.

    and so lovely.

  76. Courtney

    What an amazing blessing – love your family tributes sweet friend! (They look great!)

  77. francerants

    Okay so 1)you get to go to Palm Desert, one of my favorite places ever 2)your grandparents are alive, too cute, and you actually KNOW them and 3)do you realize that you may just be part of the most normal all-American family, like, EVER?

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