Sixty-eight years ago today, my grandparents met on a double date. He was only twenty, and she was two months shy of nineteen. Now, they weren’t on a date with each other, but that didn’t stop them from chatting all evening. Grandpa told me that he knew that night that she was the girl for him. It didn’t take him long to propose, but Grandma had been raised to not rush into something as serious as marriage. She told him that they had to wait for at least two years. He agreed, albeit begrudgingly.
Sixty-six years ago today, my grandparents were joined as man and wife.
Last year was their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. Grandpa wanted to have a party, but Grandma refused. She didn’t care that she wouldn’t even have to do any of the work. She simply didn’t want people in her house. That’s how it gets near the end with Alzheimer’s—they don’t want anyone else in their space that isn’t already there all the time. She knew that she was not herself and she was afraid of embarrassing herself.
So, Grandpa was denied his party, but I tried to make it up to him by making them a large cake. It had two layers—one chocolate and one vanilla. The cake was actually two 9 x 13 cakes stacked on top of each other. It was, admittedly, cumbersome to try to get a bite of that cake onto a fork. When Grandpa couldn’t succeed with the silverware, and after he’d refused to let me feed him several times, he reverted to being a toddler.
One year ago today, my 87 year old grandfather mashed his hand into a large piece of cake, gripped what he could of it into a fist, and proceeded to get as much of it as he could into his mouth. I didn’t try to stop him, though I did try my damnedest not to laugh at him. That attempt was entirely unsuccessful. He didn’t seem to mind because he laughed right along with me before he shoved more cake into his mouth. He finally finished and said, “Okay. Clean me up.” That day was probably one of the last times that I got to see Grandpa laugh and smile. I hope that I never forget the sound of his voice or how he looked when he really grinned.
It’s been less than a year since I lost two of the most important people in my life, only three weeks apart. I’m still hurting, but it’s not every day…not like it was for the first month or so. Now, I mostly get days where I’m not still suffering from their loss. I’m moving on and remembering the good times we had throughout my life. But today has taught me that there are still bad days. Days like today make me understand how people used to mourn for a solid year.
At nine this morning, an alerted sounded on my phone. I glanced at the screen in what is such a common routine these days. My eyes froze on the words—G & G anniversary. I shut down. I sat there, mouth gaping, not breathing or blinking until my lungs and lids stung. I put one hand over my heart in a failed effort to quell the sobs building in my chest. Useless…just useless. I lost it for a solid three minutes. How could it have only been a year since Grandpa made that mess with the cake? How is it possible that it’s only been eight months since my grandfather died? Has it really been such a short time? But so much has happened to me since then.
Innumerable things have occurred on May Twentieth over the course of history, but the only things that matter to me in regards to that date have to do with my old people.