Yesterday I drove three hours to visit my grandmother in the hospital. Four weeks ago she had five-way bypass surgery on her heart and a week ago she had surgery on one of her kidneys. She’s eighty-five years old and a newlywed.
In 1955 my grandfather died of brain cancer leaving my grandmother a widow with two small kids. My mother was eight years old when she lost her father, my uncle only ten. Grandma raised her children alone working as a hairdresser until my mother graduated from high school ten years later.
With her kids out of the house she packed up her belongings and made the big move to Alaska. She never remarried but lived an active life until retiring. After her retirement she stayed involved at her local senior center and traveled almost non-stop.
Six years ago a drunk driver rear-ended her at a stoplight breaking both her legs. She spent the next year in Oklahoma so my mom could nurse her through the recovery. She recovered but she will live the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
Three years ago she called me to tell me she was moving back to California and getting married. Needless to say I was shocked, first she was moving from the place she loved but getting married after being single for fifty years, I couldn’t believed it.
The story she told me reminded me how resilient humans can be and how resilient love can be. She’d come down to California to visit her sister and while here she reconnected with her high school sweetheart who had lost his wife years before. When reunited they rediscovered their love for one another and on October 7, 2006 were married at the age of eighty-two and eighty-three. Their wedding song was At last by Etta James.
When I saw her yesterday she seemed amazingly well considering the series of surgeries she’d just been through. She was bright and cheerful and very much in love with her new husband. Granted three years of marriage doesn’t technically mean you’re a newlywed but you couldn’t tell by those two. If I’ve learned anything from her it’s to never give up and live life to the fullest no matter your age or physical condition.