Life, Death And Love

She sat in a wheel chair, her auburn hair aglow from the sunshine beaming through the partially shaded window. What a sight she was to the man, grey-haired and shuffling his feet as he pushed his walker toward her.

He smiled a big smile, yet she seemed not to notice him.

He told her she looked pretty. (I bet he says that to her every morning.) She looked down as if he’d embarrassed her. And then he sat beside her, taking her hand in his.

I wondered how many years – how many years had he done the same thing every morning.

But this morning was Valentine’s Day.

On a day when most couples splurge on flowers, balloons, chocolates and greeting cards, this elderly husband and wife were content to sit with their fingers intertwined.

A few feet away, another man sat by his wife, feeding her applesauce one spoonful at a time.

This is what happens when couples grow old together. They take care of each other.
In sickness and in health – that’s likely what they said in their vows.

I was at the nursing home with my mom to visit Gram. I hadn’t seen her since New Year’s Day and I’d taken a little time off work for meetings in the cities. A little jaunt over to Willmar in lightly blowing snow was worth it, as always.

I don’t suppose too many people would spend their Valentine’s Day in a nursing home, unless of course, they – or their significant other – were living there. Yet, like every holiday, the staff makes a special day of it. The tables were decorated in reds and pinks, heart-shaped frosted sugar cookies were distributed among the residents and many staffers were wearing scrubs in varying shades of red and pink.

If Gram noticed all of the fuss about Valentine’s Day, she didn’t say anything. After all, her significant other – my grandpa – has been gone for more than 35 years.

Gram has told me many times it has been a lonely life getting old – growing old without Grandpa. I wish he hadn’t left her so soon.

I wish they’d had more time together – time to grow old together like other couples do – but I guess I should just be grateful. I’m grateful she found the love of her life and held on to that love forever.

2 Responses

  1. You are lucky to still be able to visit with her – two of my grandparents died when I was 4 and the other two when I was out of college but they were far away and we were never close. So I really feel like I never had that relationship. I’m sorry to have missed out.

    1. Julie Buntjer

      I am very thankful to have had good relationships with both of my grandmothers. Grandma B lived on Smith Avenue here in Worthington and we’d see her often. She lost her husband before my dad even graduated from high school, so I never knew him. My Grandpa K died when I was in third grade. He was quite the fisherman and hunter, and I only wish I’d been able to learn some fishing skills from him. My grandmas fostered in me a love for reading and needlework, and for that I will always be grateful. Thanks for your comments Gretchen. I wish that you had been able to get to know your grandparents. Hopefully your children get to reap the benefits of grandparents.

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