never known true love

I’ve spent the better part of my writing career crafting love stories.  I’ve created characters and plot lines that revolve around finding the person with whom you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life.

And yet in light of everything that has happened in the last, say, 18 hours, I’m coming to find that all I’ve ever thought of love is just… wrong.

This is not to say that I haven’t found my great love.  I want to say that first and foremost.  I have, in fact, found the person with whom I am supposed to spend the rest of my life.  I’ve found my person.  I’ve found my other half.  I could continue with the cliches, but I think you get the point.

But I also know the love I have for my now-fiance just pales in comparison to the love I have had the privilege of witnessing for the last almost 26 years.

My grandparents met at Camp Lejeune.  They love to tell this story.  My grandma was a server, and my grandpa and his friends came to the restaurant where she worked one night acting rowdy, and my grandma refused to serve them.  My grandpa always notes with a smile that he knew then she was the one for him.  While my grandmother tries to play it off, I think even she knew she’d met her match when she first met my grandfather.

They married May 19, 1957, at the courthouse.  I’ve seen some pictures.  My grandma wore a pretty dress; my grandpa wore his dress blues.  They looked every bit the happy couple.

They had four children.  They went through things that no ordinary couple (I think) would ever make it through:  my mom’s twin brother, Albert, died at birth; in 2007, they lost my mom; they had to face troubles when I was born, and later welcomed my mom back into their home; they’ve had several health scares over the years, which have increased as they’ve grown older.

But they’ve never left each other’s sides.  They’ve stood strong through it all — in spite of the odds literally being stacked against them.

There’s a song my mom picked out for them — “Two Sparrows In A Hurricane” by Tanya Tucker.  I think it really fits for them.  Much like the couple in the song, my grandparents have withstood numerous mishaps and tragedies, and in spite of everyone telling them they would never make it, their love has stood strong.  They made it because of these difficulties.  They conquered because they truly love each other.

My grandfather had an… episode yesterday.  That’s the only word I can think of to describe it.  He passed out.  We all thought we were going to lose him.  I can’t erase what I witnessed yesterday.  It still scares me.

Yet in the middle of all of this, my grandma was there; cradling my grandfather, whispering to him, telling him he would be okay… asking him if he would be okay.

I thought I knew what love was.  I thought I had it all figured out.  But what I had originally thought was love is nothing close to what I saw yesterday as my grandma sat next to my grandpa, moving around him to keep him alert.  She moved to his feet, rubbing his legs to keep him warm.

After they got him calmed down and stable, she took a hold of his hand and looked him straight in the eye.

“Don’t you leave me,” she warned.

He smiled warmly at her.  “Okay.”

I thought I had love pegged.  I thought love was an idea… a feeling.  But it’s not.

Love is action.  Love is picking your spouse up off the ground after he falls off a ladder, keeping him upright until the paramedics come; love is gripping your wife’s hand tight as you wait for the ambulance to come while she has a heart attack; love is raising all of your kids, and welcoming them back in spite of the fact that these are your golden years.

Love is action.  My grandparents are living proof of that.  And I’m so thankful that I have been able to witness this love story, and so inspired by the love they still have for one another — even after all these years.