"Tears may, and must, come; but if they gather
in eyes that are constantly looking up
to You and Heaven,
they will glisten with the
brightness of the Coming Day."
|*This post is about my grandparents- my dad's parents- who I haven't written as much about but who are also a huge part of my life*|
The sweet fragrance of a lilac bush floods me with memories of my grandparent's house. For years, this bush neglected to blossom every spring. In an average yard, this bush would have been cut down and never bloomed again. But my grandparents never threw anything out. And last May, right before my grandfather passed away, just shy of celebrating 65 years of marriage, the lilacs bloomed.
In so many ways, that lilac bush was an illustration of my grandparents marriage. There might be many seasons where the bush doesn't blossom and yields no fruit. But my grandparents were committed to each other for life. And when you walked into their home- it was no fairytale story of life- my grandmother, hair yellowed from years of smoking, face sunken in where teeth had long before been lost, would be found heating up breakfast for her husband as he sat on the couch in his underwear- just waking up to start his day at two-thirty in the afternoon. You could for certain find my grandfather in one of three spots in his later years- his bed, the couch, or the bathroom. That had become the essence of his life. My grandmother would complain or fret about all she had to do for him; my grandfather barely spoke, and when he did, it was so gruff it was hard to know if he's even heard what you said through his non-functioning hearing aids.
But that May, the lilacs bloomed. And one day in May, my grandfather took his last trip to the ER. His wife of over sixty years, held his hand, signed his papers, could barely be drug from his side to get something to eat or rest awhile. And it was in this hospital room, almost all thirty grandkids took turns passing through not just with an opportunity to give our grandfather one last kiss goodbye- but to smell the sweet fragrance of what kind of love is cultivated after six decades of commitment, sacrifice, and love. We all finally came to realize that every cup of decaf coffee served, every conversation my grandmom tried to shout over the television, every push and shoe to force my grandfather out of the bed and his depression- was a sign of my grandmother's love.
Her complaining and anxiety were deeply rooted in her care for him.
To imagine what a different experience it would have been to say goodbye to my grandfather if they had given up in the hard years- when the house burnt down leaving them homeless with seven children, or when my grandfather became disabled as a result of his PTSD, or in the later years when they were confined to their cat-infested trailer and their days consisted of therapy and walkers and hospital visits.
But instead, we saw a wife, faithful to her wedding vows, lean over to kiss the cold lips of the body that had just held her dearly beloved. Faithful in life and unto death. And even now, when I visited my grandmom this May and plucked a lilac from that lilac bush, kissed her goodbye and drove off with my new husband of five months, the aroma of that lilac flooded our car and reminded me of the worth of holding true to our pledge- in sickness, in health, in joy and in pain, till death do us part.
What a blessing it is to begin my marriage with such examples as my parents and grandparents.
"Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" John 12:24