If you’re a country music fan you’ve probably heard the Clay Walker song “Ordinary People”. If you’re not you should go listen. That song has been on my mind for MONTHS now. I have tried a hundred times to write this post but it’s been a hard one to verbalize.
The song talks about the love of “Ordinary People”. In one verse he mentions his grandparents being marred fr 67 years and loving eachother until the end.
That’s a concept I never managed to grasp until recently. 67 years of loving the same person, living for the same person. It seems completely unfathomable in this day and age where divorce is as common as cavities doesn’t it?
My great-grandfather died last week after a long illness. He leaves behind my Granny, his wife of 69 years. In September they told us he had days to live, he was in multiple organ failure, his kidneys were failing, his liver was failing, and he was in congestive heart failure. They took him home to die. We went to Arizona expecting to say our goodbyes and attend his funeral as did the remainder of my family. We arrived on Thursday and I would have sworn he could die any minute. He was too weak to get out of bed, or even roll over. They’d moved a hospital bed in to the living room to easily get him in and out of. He didn’t know who we were and he looked to be barely hanging on. On Friday he had improved enough he was up and eating at the table a couple of meals a day. He insisted on sitting up in bed, showering, getting actual clothes on, and sitting up to visit. He was “impoving” so much the doctor sent the home health nurse over to draw blood to be sure he’d diagnosed him correctly! By Sunday he was up almost all day and back to sleeping in his own bed! Most of us went home on Monday and as we all said our goodbyes he gave us all hugs and told us “next time you visit I’ll be feeling better and we’ll really get to visit”. I think subconsiously he probably knew it was our last visit, but for our benefit he wasn’t admitting it. On Wednesday he woke up, got showered and dressed by himself, and wanted to know who the heck moved his reclier out of the living room! He told my grandma and great-aunts they were going to have to find somewhere else to sleep because he wanted that hospital bed out of the living room and his chair back!! That was early September… Not only did he live for 3 more months, but he LIVED for 3 more months. He went out to eat, he went to tractor pulls, he went to Chamber and Rotary meetings. He wasn’t about to let his body dictate his life. I firmly believe he hung on for my Granny, he wasn’t letting go until he’d eeked out as much quality time with her as was humanly possible.
He did so well my aunts and my grandma all went home right after we did, home health and my Granny were all that was necessary as he was fully up and around and back to his normal ornery self.
Finally, his body got the better of him and he had to be hospitalized. He began to have seizures and couldn’t breathe easily. He had a “DNR” order in place so they made him as comfortable as possible until he let go and he fought up until the very end.
Over the last 3 months I’ve looked at the photos from our trip a hundred times. I am always blown away when I see in each and EVERY photo, my Granny and Grandpa are holding hands. So I went back through photos through the years and sure enough, in every single photo we’ve ever taken of them or with them they are holding hands. When we were in Arizona my Granny never left his bedside. We had to force her to eat. She simply said “I may not have much time left to spend with him so I’m getting my time in”.
This couple who eloped as kids have a love that lasted them 69 years, a love even death can’t touch. I can’t even tell you how it feels to know this kind of love exists, but more than that to know all of us are a product of this love… It’s a legacy I can only hope to honor.