Sometimes a picture is literally worth a thousand words.
Most of us see photographs and notice them for the good lighting, or the intricate details, or in this case,
a young couple in love and a before-it-was-cool photo bomb in the back.
I don’t know if you can ever really appreciate a picture though, unless you know the story behind it. Maybe that is why I’ve been obsessed with this particular picture for so long.
The photograph above is of my gram and gramps sometime in the early 60’s. At the time, she had already had my dad after running off with a 30 year old man at the age of 18 (so scandalous, i know.) Unfortunately, that relationship left her with nothing but a 2 year old and bitterness that would last a lifetime.. but the man I call my grandfather today, found her a few years later. I’m not sure how they met, but I do know that he was instantly infatuated with her. My grandma took a little more convincing, but if the picture doesn’t explain it enough, I think she knew she was finally safe. They eventually got married and had a big family and the average American lifestyle that we all know too well. Just like any other couple, they fought, and laughed, and drove each other crazy. My grandma packed on over 60 pounds and my grandpa’s dreams of owning his own business had my grandmother living in the top of their rental shop for the last 20 something years of her life. But through it all, they stayed together.
My grandma died the summer before my freshman year of college. When she started to lose her hair from the cancer that quickly took over her body, my grandpa took some clippers into the bathroom and shaved his head too. The last week of her life when she was put into the hospice ward, my grandfather didn’t leave the hospital once. He stayed by her side until she was gone.
And then, soon after her death, my grandpa threw everyone for a loop and started dating someone new.
This is the part that doesn’t really fit into the fairytale, and I guess that’s part of this lesson i’ve been learning through their story. See, what the picture doesn’t tell you is that my grandmother was sometimes really hard to love. She was bitter about the cards life had dealt her and for 40 something years my grandpa had to put up with that. And my grandfather, i think he’s just one of those people who was born knowing how to love someone, you know? He’s the kind of person who can give his heart to anyone. I’ve started to realize that like my grandmother, I’m just not built this way.
Recently I’ve struggled with the reality of people coming in and out of your life to teach you a lesson. I look at these pictures of my grandparents, and I see how long they were together, and all I can think is: that was so much more than just a lesson, that was a lifetime. And yet, she’s gone, and he’s moved on, and all I can think is that they were just here to teach each other something about themselves, and then even more, to pass on this lesson to me.