I visited my grandfather this week. Grandpa still lives in his own home, at age almost 92, and is still as sharp as a tack. Two days before I visited, he had overbalanced and fallen, bruising his hip and shoulder. Thankfully there were no other injuries, besides his wounded dignity. We ate some fruit loaf together, and talked.
Visiting Grandpa is always tinged with a little sadness, because my Grandma is no longer alive. Grandpa and Grandma were a real team, and my grandfather still misses her keenly, although it has been 11 years since she died. Grandma and Grandpa had such a profound love for each other - I suppose that kind of love doesn't just die when one partner dies.
As a teenager, hoping to one day find a long-lasting relationship myself, it was my grandparents' marriage that I held up as an ideal. This was partly because my parents' marriage was clearly not something I wanted for myself. This was also because, although they occasionally quarrelled, Grandpa and Grandma never disrespected each other, and in daily life they were loving, affectionate and playful together. They thanked each other for chores one did for the other. They kissed hello and goodbye, even if my grandfather was merely going out into the paddocks for a few hours. They laughed at each others' jokes. Anyone who spent time with my grandparents could see the happiness they brought to each other - it glowed all around them like a double aura.
My grandparents were married for over 50 years. They worked hard to establish themselves; Grandpa built their house himself, and Grandma made it a comfortable home. They raised 2 children, and saw their children have children. They travelled together, to Europe and to North America. They shared many joys, and few sadnesses, in their life.
My Grandma was ill for many months before she died, but she was lucid up until her last few hours. Grandpa cared for her at home, and Grandma died in her own bed, with her beloved soul mate beside her.
Just a few days before Grandma died -when she was painfully thin, and weak, and barely able to whisper - Grandpa came into their bedroom to check on my grandmother. Finding Grandma on his side of the bed, Grandpa teased his girl, saying, "What are doing over here, pet?". Grandma smiled, and touched a hand to his cheek. "Looking for you, Romeo!", she replied.
I wasn't present in the room during that brief exchange. My grandfather told me the story. It's a story I'll treasure and remember always.