Tuesday, December 07, 2004

An ancestral love story  

I wrote yesterday a little about my grandparents' advice for keeping a marriage strong over half a century. They also told me their love story, something I don't think I'd ever heard before.

When my grandmother (I call her Nana—pronounced NAH-nuh) was a very young woman, she was engaged to be married to a young man who died in a hunting accident before they married. She lived with her parents at the time, but their house was some distance away from the nearest town, making the commute to her job at the county clerk's office quite difficult. Her parents inquired of friends whether a place existed in town where she might lodge. They finally found a place run by a kind elderly lady who rented rooms and provided two meals a day. When Nana moved into the house, the lady said, "You should meet my grandson. I think you'd like him." Still recovering from the death of her fiance, Nana declined and went about her life.

The woman's grandson (my grandfather) had recently returned home from Europe, where he served in the U.S. Army during WWII. He was living in a hotel near his grandmother's house and working for an electric company. The company paid the rent for several of their employees who lived in the hotel. One day he told his buddies he needed to go visit his grandmother. On his visit, he met my Nana and immediately asked her out to a movie. She accepted. Neither of them owned a car, so they walked together to the movie theater on a route that took them past the hotel where he lived. Later that evening his friends asked him if he had any more "grandmothers," because they sure liked the look of the one he was walking with.

Anyway, he immediately became smitten with her and asked her out again for the next evening. She accepted again. They met and went out on 13 of the next 14 days. On the 14th day, she had a date with another young man. After that, though, she didn't date anyone else. They met, became engaged, and married in the months between Nana's March birthday and Thanksgiving. That's a whirlwind courtship in my book, but you can't argue with 57 years of love that has only grown stronger.