Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Something Worth Celebrating

This past October I spent a lot of time on the internet trying to track down good songs from the early 1950's. My granny, a self-professed lover of Madame Butterfly and Frank Sinatra, was about to be surprised along with my gramps with a surprise 60th anniversary bash. Cousins flying in from around the country, lots of good food and a slideshow to commemorate it all. A slideshow that needed songs they'd actually recognize.

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
60 years is no joke. As that slideshow played through pictures of their dating and wedding day, he handsome in his uniform, she gorgeous in a late 40's style dress...as Frank sang about the world smiling and pictures of my aunt and uncle and mother flashed across the screen on family vacations, I was so deeply thankful. Thankful that I was a part of this family, that I could be a part of something so worth celebrating.  That I could see before me not a perfect couple, but a couple who has yelled at each other, been frustrated and laughed more times than they could count...a couple who has suffered, who parented well and parented poorly, who have lost many friends and family to disease and old age and who have done all this and more together for more than 60 years. Who I'm sure have been tempted to give up more than once. I am so deeply thankful that they didn't.
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."

1 comment:

  1. ummmm....calling cards? Weren't you both in the US? Carolyn, that already sounds like the stone age! :-P