My beloved maternal grandparents were married for more than 60 years. I find it utterly incredible that they managed to stick it out through thick and thin for that long. They say that because people are getting married later and later in life that there will be fewer and fewer people celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary in the future. A sign of the times I suppose.
When my mum had to go back to work full time my sister and I were lucky enough to be looked after full time by Gran and Pop. I look back on those days with huge love and affection, even though Pop made us do extra school work in the mornings (he was a primary school teacher) and made us practise our musical instruments every night (he was also a music teacher). Despite this I loved my Pop so very much – he was an old softie and never raised his voice to us but we (usually) did as we were told. I’ve come to learn that the best teachers don’t have to shout to get what they want and he was a great teacher. He was a devout Christian but he had a cheeky side too. My favourite memory of him was when we were on holiday in Spain. He was getting on a bit and was unsteady on his feet so my OH would hold on to his arm when he wanted to get to and from the pool. Every now and again he made my OH stop for a “rest” and to “admire the view” (topless ladies boobs).
My Gran was the sterner one of the two but I adored her too. She was the best cook; her pastry could rival Mary Berry’s and her Christmas cake was divine. I’ve been trying to make her chicken soup for years to no avail, until recently when a very dear friend of mine suggest I add the jelly stock from the roasting tin. I cried when I tasted it; it’s funny how taste can evoke the strongest memories. Gran was a habitual worrier – a personality trait I’ve inherited; if Pop was a few minutes late home from going up to the greengrocer’s, my gran would be at the window looking for him. When he finally got home (usually no more that 10 minutes late) she would cry, “Where’ve you been Johnny?! I had you dead in a ditch!”
How did they manage to stay together so long? Well, maybe part of their secret was a poem they had hanging on the wall in their entrance hallway. I would read it every time I went to their house, which was often enough that it’s imprinted on my brain. It’s called “A Little”:
A little explained,
A little endured,
A little forgiven,
The quarrel is cured.
So simple, so true and such a perfect example of the legacy that my grandparents left me, left all of my maternal family; all of whom I’m lucky enough to be very close to. It’s message has helped me with all my relationships. I intend to have my own version of that poem framed and put in my hallway so that my children, and hopefully their children, will read it and memorise it too.