So, with songs like "Too Marvelous", "Harbor Lights" and "When You're Smiling" ringing through my head, my family made the 12 hour drive through the boondocks of southeastern America to get to St. Petersburg, FL. Once there, we spent hours upon hours at the beach and pool, reminiscing about old family trips to the Cape, our favorite memories of growing up with Granny and Gramps and begging them to tell us stories maybe we used to be too young to know. As it stands now, the youngest cousin is in grad school, so I think we all pretty much count ourselves as adults, at least on our good days. We deserve the messy stories now.
I can safely say it was the first time I've ever even come close to hearing my grandparents reference any kind of sex life or even admitting that having 3 kids under 4 years-old might've been a tad insane. My granny spoke about the time that my gramps was off to war and she was raising a child alone, unsure of whether he'd even meet that child(my mom). They talked of good times too, of remembering when each of us was born and the things we did in our teens that were so incredibly foreign to their own experiences. (These stories mostly related to any and all music we'd play around them, not the least of which was my brother's foray into angry German rock. My gramps had a LOT to say about that at the time, as I recall.)
My family isn't perfect. We have a lot of craziness that goes on, as much dysfunction as the next family. But my grandparents have stuck together for 60 years. Sixty unperfect but committed years. I couldn't help but compare my meager 7 1/2 to that number and hope that in about 53 years, my own grandkids will have something to celebrate, some crazy chance to hear insane stories about what dating was like in the early 2000's (which to them will likely sound like the stone age) and the fact that I didn't even own a cell phone and had to use calling cards to talk to my fiance when we were engaged long distance. The movies we watched and the songs we danced to will be long forgotten classics to them. But I imagine, just like it was for my grandparents in October, that those memories will not be as distant for us. That our wedding song will be just as special, that we'll easily remember the birth of our son and every detail of any subsequent births of our (hopefully) grandkids. That, though we won't have led a perfect life without suffering or had a flawless marriage (who could?) that we'll have stuck it out and learned more about God, each other and ourselves than we ever would have had we never made the commitment to each other in the first place.
|G and G on their wedding day- December 22, 1950|
|G & G on the night of their anniversary party, October 2010|
The joy of my grandparents at this celebration was infectious, their clear love for each other and us was overwhelming- it felt like it must've been obvious to everyone around us. It may sound trite, but I think at least in this one instance, Frank was right.
"When you're smiling, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you."