Goat, like my grandfather, Graham affectionately called my 90-year- old grandmother has always been the epitome of the woman I hope I grow to be. Spunky, wise and fresh, she always had his heart. Graham, a humble man of few words with a heart of gold, had her at hello. For as long as I can remember, they loved each other desperately. As a child, I didn’t understand the magnitude of love that was between them, but looking back as a woman, I now see that their relationship set the foundation for the love and marriage I am praying for. Here are three scriptures my grandparents’ marriage embodied:
1. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. -Romans 12:10
My grandparents were genuinely devoted to one another. They both put each other above their own wants and needs; therefore, both their needs were always met. I can remember times when they were in disagreement or upset with one another. It never changed how they cared for each other. My grandmother would still cook my grandfather’s meals, do his laundry, and make sure he came home from doing yard work to a clean house. This was the type of woman she was. Her actions superseded her temporary feelings. The same was true for my grandfather. No matter how he felt or what had taken place between them, he always made sure she had what she needed. If it was within his power to give it, she had it without a doubt.
2. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient; bearing with one another in love. -Ephesians 4:2
My grandfather was both humble and patient. Coming into a huge family as a stepfather and the only grandpa most of the grandchildren ever knew, he took his time building relationships with everyone. His love for the members of our family was as deep and different as every individual. He loved all of us because he loved her.
3. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13:13
My grandparents were people of faith. They always had hope that no matter what they were going through it would get better. Their love for each other trickled down into all their other relationships. The summer before my mom bought our house, we lived with them.
My mom worked full-time and took night classes to get her degree. She left early in the morning and came home late. I was not affected by her being so busy because my grandparents were there. That summer, I learned some of the most valuable lessons of my life. As a preteen, I couldn’t see it, but looking back I can see the love that was poured into me. Back then my grandmother loved grocery shopping at multiple stores throughout the county. At every store, they bought me a different snack. As we walked into various stores, she would say, “Kara, get whatever you want!”
We’d make pitchers of tea and sit them on the back of Grandpa’s car. She called it, “sun tea”. She would do laundry every day. I’d carry the baskets of clean clothes to the clothesline in the backyard where she taught me how to hang clothes. She laid the foundation for womanhood and the role of a wife. Times have changed and I’m not sure if my marriage will look like theirs or if I’ll carry all the duties that she did, but I am certain that their marriage taught me what to pray for in a husband and what to aspire to be as a wife.
Last Monday my grandparents’ marriage came to an end when my grandfather passed away. At 90 and 96- years-old, they fulfilled what I consider the most sacred vow, “’Til death do us part.” It wasn’t always easy, as my grandmother began to battle dementia over the last several years. It didn’t always feel good. Sometimes my grandfather would stop by her room to see her and she didn’t recognize him, but he kept coming anyway.
Last year, at my grandfather’s 95th birthday party, he looked at her and said, “I love you no matter what shape you’re in.” These were not just words, he lived that declaration. As a woman of color who also battles a disease of the mind, my greatest hope is that I will be loved fiercely, no matter what shape I’m in.
In Loving Memory of Smith “Grandpa” Graham