On October 1, my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Seventeen days later, on October 18, my grandpa died from heart failure.
None of us expected him to go. He was in the hospital. He had been in the hospital off and on with heart problems for years.
During the visitation, I arrived at the funeral home and sat with my grandma after she watched the slideshow and looked at the board full of beautiful pictures that, for the most part, reflected the life they shared together for just over 50 years. My grandma had just recently left a rehabilitation facility because she had fallen and broken some ribs. As she shifted in her seat, she winced. I asked her "do you need anything, do you hurt?"
Her response: "the only thing that hurts is my broken heart."
I squeezed her hand in mine. What could I say to that? My heart ached more at that moment than it had over the past 11 days.
During the service, I learned my grandma only agreed to go out with my grandpa when she learned he was not already married. Perhaps a sign of the times? It was 1960 after all and she already had 3 daughters from a previous marriage. (They are really my half-aunts, really, who I didn't realize were my half-aunts until I was 15. After the initial shock of this family news, nothing really changed. They are a part of our family and called my grandpa "dad" even thought he was not their biologically father.) My sister and I looked at each other in surprise when we learned our grandparents met and were married just 5 weeks later. My grandparents argued, what seemed like, all the time. He teased her and pushed just the right buttons to make her scowl and exclaim "Jack!"
But they had love. For more than 50 years.