This weekend Trae and I helped throw his grandmother, MaMa, a 90th birthday party. This party was very important because it was the first major milestone MaMa was celebrating without PaPa, Trae’s grandfather. A year after PaPa’s passing, I wrote about Trae’s grandparents’ unique love story and incredible marriage. I promised in the post that I would write more on their love story, but I never did.
Every time I sat down to the computer, I got scared and overwhelmed. How do you write about a marriage that you admire and respect so much? I still don’t know how to, but after helping plan this party, I know I have to try.
For part of the party’s decorations I made up huge collages of photos in gold frames and I also had some pictures in individual frames. By going through a mountain of old photos, I learned two important things about MaMa. One: She lived in bathing suits. Two: She and Papa were inseparable. Photo after photo showed the two of them together: dating on Lake Lure, traveling the world, dancing the latest moves, and loving their family. Oh, and going to the beach…a lot!
Those photos taught me something very valuable about marriage: Never let the love or passion for each other or life die out. On the backs of so many of the photos were notes from young high school MaMa asking very young PaPa if she could be his pin-up girl or that she missed having her cheek against his. And that passion for one another never died. After marriage they took dance lessons, bought the second TV at the mill village, and hosted an annual Christmas Eve party. Once they retired they got in a van and drove across the United States. They traveled to France for 50th anniversary of D-Day where MaMa says they were treated like heroes. Went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but did it the “right way” because as MaMa says, “We were friends with some true Cajuns and boy, do they know how to throw a good party.”
But their marriage had its hardships too. It was their love for each other saw them through the tough times: struggling to have a child, surviving breast cancer, and being confined to a wheelchair. MaMa will be quick to admit that their marriage wasn’t all roses and that they had their fusses. In her words, “When you live with someone for that long, you are bound to argue. Those couples who say they don’t are lying through their teeth.” PaPa always said, “I knew I was in trouble when she would say ‘If you do this one thing for me, I’ll never ask for anything again.’ Well that one thing led us to get a TV, buy a house, and buy the lake house. It never was just one thing.”
Up until the day of PaPa’s death, they were still holding hands and kissing. Their bodies might have gotten older, but the love they held for each other was as young as the couple writing letters to each other during the war.