Saturday, August 23, 2008

Old Love

I can't sleep. My mind won't let go of things from the week. Plus I have to work early in the morning at Orientation.

Thoughts float in and out. Some stick and sting. Others comfort and rest comfortably, like Old Love.

I've been thinking about my grandfather tonight. My father's father. The one that was born and raised in Michigan. I've been marveling in the thoughts of how hard his life was, and yet how kind he was, with such enormous capacity to love.

Abandoned and orphaned as a child. His stories of his childhood were hard to hear. They scared me. Think of that severe, mid-western existence that is all gravel, hard-work, and near-starvation... that was what it seemed like.

He found my grandmother when she was only 18. I don't know how they met. Undoubtedly they met at church through some wonderful mutual acquaintance. I can only guess how thrilled she must have been to have this tall, handsome mystery man sweep her off her beautiful feet.

He worked so hard. He built things. He built really strong things like houses, decks, rocking horses, and sheds. But he also built soft, loving things like a wonderful marriage, three kind, compassionate children, and beautiful, life-long friendships. He defied stereotypes. He was everything to us. I think he still is everything to my grandmother, even 15 years after his passing.

We found notes he wrote to her. Love notes with dates. 80+ years old and he was leaving love notes about her beauty. Maybe it was to quell that fiery temper, but I suspect that after all that pain he endured, he opened himself to her - relaxed into her, reinventing their love over and over for nearly 60 years.

So I see these movies like Venus and Love Comes Lately. And I read books like Disgrace. And they portray old love as philandering and lecherous. They leave you feeling that age forgets wisdom. That love does not conquer all.

I refuse to believe it. I have never seen what they profess to be true. Old Love is soft and loose. It is warm and accepting. It is knowledgeable and collaborative. And it is generous.

I think that once the choice is made to love, the choice of how to love is one's own. Life, Aging, and ultimately Dying are hard, I get it. But you have the choice to be gentle with your affections, to ease the path for the ones you love. If you're lucky, somewhere along the way, you loosen the pull of ambition, fame, and fortune and you relax into the bounty of those around you.


Kimberli Cox said...

Grandma once told me how she and grandpa met.

Apparently he was engaged to a woman that great Grandma Hemingway did not care for. So she was on the look out for a suitable bride for him.

Either she was doing some seamtress work for grandma's mother, or the other way around; I'm not sure I remember. But the two conspired to bring our grandparents together. Grandma tells me that it was not love at first sight, grandpa having a GF. But multiple meetings later something must have sparked.

The rest they say... (and the moral of the story was grandma told me was essentially, "even engaged men aren't off limits" - when I was complaing about all the good ones being taken! ;) )

Kathryn said...

That's so interesting... my dad was also engaged, or at least attached to someone else when he met my mom. A woman in Germany named Betty that was friends with Jan - ask her about it... it's an interesting story.

I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

Kimberli said...

I've heard the story from Jan about the fraulein Betty. She says we're a family of lovers, so no suprise when things like this happen! :D