Love Goes on Living....
They say we learn about love from being surrounded by it. Rochester, New York journalism student Laura Allen's grandparents taught her a lesson in love that outlasted their lifetime and lives on in hers, as she shares the story. She writes:
My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word "shmily" in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving "shmily" around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.
They dragged "shmily" with their fingers through the sugar container to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us homemade pudding. "Shmily" was written in the steam on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point my grandmother unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave "shmily" on the very last sheet.
There was no end to where "shmily" would pop up. Little notes with "shmily" scribbled on them were found on car seats or taped to the steering wheel. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. "Shmily" was written in the dust on the mantle and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. The mysterious word was a much a part of my grandparents' house as the furniture.
Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They finished each other's sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle. My grandmother whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was--the man she met on a blind date--and how handsome an old man he had grown to be. Before every meal they bowed heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune and each other.
But there was a dark cloud on my grandparent's life, my grandmother had cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier, and at that time I remember that she'd painted her room yellow. With a yellow room, she explained, she would always be surrounded by sunshine even if she was too sick to go outside to enjoy it.
With the help of a cane and my grandfather's steady hand, they still went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew weaker until she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.
"Shmily". It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother's funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother's casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.
Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew then that, although I couldn't begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.
"S-h-m-i-l-y. See How Much I Love You.
Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for letting me see.