My wife Anita remained in Georgia after her Grandmother Jewel’s funeral to spend an additional 2 weeks with her 91 year old Grandfather Leon. She’s helping clean, organize and serving as his eyes to read his favorite book to him every night before he goes to bed. Leon’s got technical problems with his rotary dial phone (yes, you read that right) so she got him a cell phone with large numbers that’s hearing aid compatible and ordered a copy of the book to continue reading to him every evening when she returns home.
We’ve been together 9 years (married for eight) and have spent every Christmas in southwest Georgia to be with her Grandparents. She lost her maternal Grandmother (Anne) in March and her husband passed years ago, but her paternal Grandparents have always been a special part of our holidays.
This year will be different. Jewel Thompson was the matriarch of the family, mother of 3, married 4 times at a time when multiple marriages were VERY uncommon. She and Leon celebrated 60 years together!! How many people do you know that can claim that kind of longevity? She was the glue that kept the family together. She passed in her sleep on October 11th.
Leon claims he’s right behind her, but is torn by the difficulties his daughter is experiencing due to the loss of her mother. Leon has an amazing memory and is a fabulous story teller. I know he and Anita sit for hours as he relates experiences from decades past with vivid clarity. He tells one about a dream he recalls from when he was 6 years old!
WOW – I have difficulty recalling what I wore the day before last or how I spent my day last Tuesday!
Intellectually I know death is a natural part of life and that Jewel is enjoying the benefits of life after death. I know that Leon’s time with us is limited, not because he ails physically but because he misses Jewel ever so much. The two of them were a perfect match, and as I understand the story a very unlikely one.
As I rake leaves on these fine fall days in Cincinnati, I can’t help but reflect on the changes that are before us. Not the freeze warning for tonight, the sight of birds flying south for the winter or having to replace my summer clothes with the winter ones, but the true changes that occur in life. Changes that cause us to pause and reflect on what’s important, how and who we spend our time with.
This fall I’ve got a fresh new perspective for my relationship with Anita – over 60 years together! After 60 years of marriage I’ll be 98 and Anita will be 100. Feels like something to live for, to stand for and to be proud of. I won’t be sharing stories of dreams I had when I was 6, but I will be bending my great, great Grandchildren’s ears about how I “retired” from my corporate job of 24 years to start a business during the worst economic times of my life.