Together we had struggled through eight long and hard years to finish a three year course. Graduation was a day I sometimes felt would never come, but it did. My brother and his family were there as well as my mother and father. After the ceremony, coming out of the auditorium, the graduates were swamped by family and friends, and so was I. As the hugs were shared, I glanced around and there was Jane, standing off to the side so others could get to me. A piercing emotional pain hit me… here is the one who made so much of this possible, and she’s standing off to the side, not being noticed or getting any credit for it.
I went to her, kissed her and said with all the conviction of my heart, “Honey, we made it.”
I later finished three masters degrees and a doctorate, but none of them had the emotional impact of the first one, and Jane was always there—in the shadows—but she was there for every one of them.
My grandparents have been married for 58 years, and they are still in complete love. My grandfather opens every door for my grandmother out of respect for her strength and patience and endless love. My grandmother adores and listens to my grandfather’s stories, of which she always remembers the little details. I watch them with such admiration, and who I am today is because of the solid foundation my grandparents have created for everyone – starting with their love and relationship, then moving to what they created for my mother and her 4 siblings, and then for all of my cousins, my brother and myself.
So what is the secret to such deep, unwavering love? I asked them:
(1) Be sure it’s true for each of you: “I love you as I love no other.” There are a lot of people who can’t say that to the one they are marrying, unfortunately.
(2) Remember: Lovers turn into strangers when they stop doing the things that made them fall in love. Set aside some time, even if it’s just going for a walk, in which just the two of you can be together, can talk and share as lovers, as friends.
(3) Be openly honest with each other. Tell the truth. When you’re hurting, say so. If things are not going well for you in any area of your life, share that with the one you love. When they’re going well, share that too.
(4) Learn to listen. Most of us try to come up with an answer for a problem when there may not be an answer to the problem; your mate just needs you to listen to how they’re feeling.
(5) Agree that the two of you will not always agree about many issues, but that’s okay. Unless it’s an issue that demands an immediate decision, for which outside help may be necessary, you can agree to disagree and move on to other things.
(6) Practice good manners. Never be nicer to strangers or outsiders than you are to your mate. Thank your mate for ALL the nice things they do for you. Don’t assume they know of your appreciation. They don’t.
(7) Look your mate in the face everyday—outside of the bedroom— and say, “I love you” and mean it.
(8) Work hard at being “best friends.”
(9) Make the practice of your faith a major commitment in your life.
(10) Participate, as much as possible, in the interests of your mate.
(11) Develop a sense of humor. Life can get awfully frustrating at times. A sense of humor will not only help your marriage, it’s good for your heart.
I hope my grandparents know how much I adore them and need them in my life. I hope they know THEY are my example of true love; THEY are my example of Romeo and Juliet. And since there is no physical gift I could give them to show my appreciation, I will live my life to the fullest every day and do my best every day to make them proud and carry on everything they’ve taught me.
I love you both, to the edges of the world and back.