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65 Years Today

Today is my grandparents' 65th anniversary. To say that under perfect circumstances is impressive, but my grandparents did not have perfect circumstances. They are the living example of 'in sickness and in health', commitment, and love.

They met at a small town baseball game. My grandmother's sister asked her if she would go with her to a game so she could see a boy. Well, that boy had a friend, and when he and my grandmother met, that was it.

A few months later, in the rectory of a Catholic church they were married. No big ceremony, no party afterwards. Just the vows. My grandmother's sister and my grandfather's friend were the witnesses. There were supposed to be pictures, but whoever was in charge didn't take the cap off the lens.

My grandmother (us grandkids call her Mom-mom) says everyone told her it wouldn't work out. Her family was Brethren, and Pap-pap's family was Catholic. (A big issue at the time.) She was a 'city girl' (the big city of Waynesboro, PA), and he was a farm boy who didn't even have an indoor toilet. Of course, the bathroom situation changed quickly after they were married.

The first 5 or so years were great. They had a little boy (my uncle). Pap-pap took care of the farm, and Mom-mom adjusted to her country life. Then one day at the age of 25 my grandfather was driving home and suffered an aneurysm. Miraculously, he made it home, and was taken to a hospital where he was in a coma. He should have died, but as the doctors told my grandmother, 'he had a good constitution', and pulled through.

However, he did not pull through unscathed. The once out going jokester who loved to hunt and play card games would never be the same. It would take years for him to recover and relearn everything. The doctors told my grandmother having another child would help my grandfather to recover, so along came my dad.

Pap-pap's speech was mainly affected. On top of being difficult to understand, he would also say things backwards at first. This obviously embarrassed him, so he would not talk very much. It's the same today. As far as I know he doesn't say things backwards, but it can be difficult to understand him. My grandmother is usually the one to translate when needed.

During the time Pap-pap was recovering Mom-mom started her own egg business to help support the family. She also worked at a jewelry store in Waynesboro, and managed the farm. Everything was put on a schedule. Everyday of the week had a specific breakfast and dinner. My dad still remembers the schedule. What amazes me is that she could have left. She didn't need to stay and take years to nurse him back to health. She gave up more than I will ever know for him, her family, and ultimately generations after her.

Eventually Pap-pap made a great recovery. His speech is still difficult, but as a kid I learned to understand him pretty well. He was never a big talker, and I've never had a long conversation with him. I have worked with him, though, and he was one of the hardest working and strongest men I have ever met. He would toss hay bales around like they were toys. He pulled my brother's bike from an electric fence, while it was still on, and it didn't phase him. He helped to pull apple trees from what is now my yard. He would never say much, but he loved to work and help. When we would tell him things or joke with him, he would just laugh and give us a big smile. To this day that is his communication with most of us.

Pap-pap is now 85 years old. Lately he has been having some health problems that come along with being 85. He has a very hard time walking, and can't do most things for himself. This past week he needed to go to the hospital, and they sent him to a nursing home for a few weeks. The same happened a couple of months ago. My grandmother is right there again. Making medical decisions, supporting him the best she can, and taking care of him. Up until recently she was even bathing him.

Today she will be going to visit him at the nursing home on their 65th anniversary. There is no party, no big plans. They will just sit together mostly in silence. She will ask him a few questions, and he will nod and smile.

This is what marriage means. This is what your wedding is all about. There is no secret to a happy marriage. It's just love and commitment, and it is beautiful.