Today is my paternal grandparents’ 70th Wedding Anniversary. Just typing that blows my mind. Because if Justin and I made it through 70 years of marriage (a) he would deserve something very special and expensive for putting up with my neuroses for so long and (b) we’d both be about 149 years old (well, I would; he’d be much older…).
As I’ve been cleaning out the flat in preparation for our moves, I came across my grandmother’s engagement ring, a simple but beautiful round diamond solitaire on a gold band. She had given it to me to tie to my bouquet at our wedding nearly ten years ago. To be honest, I had forgotten I had it. When I took it out of the box, I gently slipped it on my ring finger above my own diamond solitaire engagement ring, and to my delight, it fit. So I now wear both.
I remember celebrating my grandparents’ 50th Anniversary when I was 16 and still dreaming innocently of finding that one true love. I was in awe of their marriage and their evident love for one another. Seeing the look of sheer adoration in my grandfather’s eyes each time he gazed at his wife created small fractures in my heart, little cracks that weakened the walls of cynicism I tried to build in the years after, fissures that meant that when the time was right, my heart broke open completely to accept the love being offered to me ten years later.
My grandparents’ marriage isn’t perfect. No marriage is. They have had their share of losses, disappointments, arguments. My grandmother has always been a strong woman, and my grandfather has fostered that strength, loving her for it rather than despite it. And yet she has allowed him to protect her, care for her in her weakness, and hold her in her vulnerability. Up until recent years, they have been fiercely curious, voracious readers, and formidable theological interlocutors.
I love the prayer from the wedding liturgy, and even after 70 years, I pray it for my grandparents:
God of peace and of unity, you have made us for one another and for you. As you draw us closer together in love, so make us more truly ourselves.
The greatest blessing my grandparents’ marriage has given me has been witnessing two people being and becoming truly themselves because of the security and challenge and joy and privilege and difficulties of being so wholly loved by another person. And by God.
Grandmama and Grandpapa, congratulations and thank you. May God continue to bless you. And may you know just how much I love you and how much you have inspired me in my own marriage.