(*I linked to the song of the title at the bottom.)
Puttering around the kitchen this morning, pulling my breakfast together, I thought about my Granny, and my Skipper. Maybe because it’s summer, and I always spent at least a week with them each summer, reading books and playing in the town park once a day and reading some more,
but maybe because when I drifted sleepily into the kitchen I startled My Sweetie into saying, “Oh! You’re here,” in a delighted tone.
My Granny and Skipper were always delighted to see each other. For most of my remembering, they were both retired—she had been a high school librarian and he a research chemist in charge of a lab facility—so they saw each other a lot. Around the corner of any given room one of them walked into, in fact. But I remember the smiles of pleasure as their eyes rested on each other.
When I was about sixteen, Granny commented that she was so glad she’d married her friend. She hadn’t thought she’d end up getting married, she said, and to marry a friend… that was even better than she’d dreamed of.
But they were clearly more than best buddies who laughed at each other’s wit. As they passed one another, there was usually a touch or a pat. Their disagreements—in front of the grandchild, granted—were respectful while they were firm. They did their ‘own thing,’ but frequently in and around each other.
Another time Granny commented—or maybe she said it to my mom, who relayed it to me—that she’d been worried about Skipper retiring and being home all the time, but that the reality was much more fun.
At about sixteen, I remember thinking, “I want to be like them. I want my marriage to be like that.”
The trip we recently took in honor of my parents’ fiftieth anniversary was a reprise of a trip that my parents and my aunt and uncle (my father’s brother) gave to Granny and Skipper in honor of their fiftieth anniversary. That year, I was… about sixteen. So my grandparents had been practicing their friendship, and their partnership, since 1934 (if I’m remembering accurately). They kept practicing through Granny’s later dementia, her death in 1993 at 83 years old (October after I married in March), and likely through to his death nearly ten years later.
If Granny had been alive, I would have peppered (and a-salted! ha!) her with questions throughout my adult life. I felt so much like her, and have had so many things that were similar happen to me (“Irish twins,” anyone?!). Plus she was my wise and gentle counselor. Not soft or sweet; tart. But still gentle.
So without her, instead I use my memory to shape how I move ahead. Perhaps she notices, if she’s not busy with other adventures. “Lovey, that’s not worth worrying about. It doesn’t make any difference to right now. Just go ahead.”
Puttering around my kitchen this morning, I smiled all over at My Sweetie’s delight. He left for work just a few minutes after noticing me; I hugged him thoroughly before he grabbed his lunchbox and headed out. I could then fix my coffee—I’d waited so it wouldn’t cool in the goodbyes—and sit down with my oatmeal and sausage to read and breakfast.
Stirring sugar in my coffee, I remembered, “I’m going to be like them.”
It sneaks up on you when you’re not looking. And then there you are.
*If you haven’t listened to the song in a while, I put it here handy. As many times as I’ve listened, and sung along, I still cry through the whole thing. And frankly, I’m super-happy that my version is the happy-ending kind and NOT like this narrator’s!