I just returned from a trip to my hometown where I attended my grandfather’s funeral.
My incredibly beloved grandpa of ninety died quite suddenly of cancer only two weeks after the diagnosis, leaving behind his soulmate (and I don’t use this word loosely; in fact, hardly ever) of 67 years, my grandma.
As I sat in the pew behind my grandma and listened to the eulogy of her husband, I couldn’t help but wonder: how the hell did they stay happily married so long?
Considering the amount of divorced people I know, I’m surprised marriage is even legal anymore.
And it wasn’t just sixty-seven years of mere cohabitation, some kind of survival game in those last several decades, it was true love, it was hugs and kisses, it was shared laughter and finishing each other’s stories like a well-rehearsed tango, it was still asking each other questions, and gazing at the other, unseen.
My childhood and teen years were spent in chaos and constant change, like my parents’ divorce, my stepmother’s sudden departure, and consequently being raised by a single father putting himself through university and trying to have the social life of a thirty-something-year-old.
We moved to many different houses, cities and schools, where I’d have to make friends all over again.
But through all of this, the one solid foundation I could rely on was my annual summer visits to my grandparents’ place.
They lived on a farm where I rode horses, had staring contests with cows, explored the barn, and baled hay. As a baby, I instantly took to my pipe-smoking grandpa, and we always had a playful relationship where we enjoyed teasing each other, like when I would clamber into his favorite easy-chair knowing full well that he’d dump me out of it (cue delighted giggles on my part).
And when I accidentally drove a baling hook into my brother’s hand, my grandpa didn’t get angry or make me feel stupid; he simply made sure my brother was all right and then told me not to worry, that sometimes these things happened.
My grandma baked fresh bread, offered a never-ending supply of hugs, taught me how to paint, and took me bra shopping for the first time.
She was always ready to answer any question I had, and instead of being impatient when I was unable to do something, merely explained that everyone had their own timing and everyone’s life went at his or her own pace.
They were always amused when I referred to their little farm as “Club Chilliwack”, but it was my own personal Garden of Eden.
For almost seven decades my grandparents shared the same bed, friends and car, were playful with each other, held hands, and raised five kids, none of whom has ever appeared on Dr. Phil or The Jerry Springer Show. How did they remain with the same person, roommate and lover for most of their lives without getting bored or pissed off?
When I asked my grandma what her secret was, she just shrugged as though I’d asked what the secret of breathing was.
“Love and laughter,” she finally said. “And don’t waste time on arguments.” Considering my string of failed relationships, I’d also add: and make sure you choose the right person. My mistake has always been diving in to a relationship, ready to give my all before taking the time to ascertain whether the other person was even interested or able to receive my all.
So what’s the secret of a good and long-lasting relationship? Maybe Friedrich Nietzsche was onto it when he said, “When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.”
In a world with few role models for love and life, you are an absolute inspiration to me, grandma and (dearly departed) grandpa!
Read more posts by Selena Templeton, love and relationship expert. Selena blogs for JenningsWire.