Last night our small family got together and celebrated my sweet grandpa’s 88th birthday at a hotel restaurant. Bill and I were the first guests to arrive, and I jumped at the chance to pick the seat right next to the guest of honor. It felt special to share the space with this elder gentleman who I love so much.
My grandma and grandpa, Doris and Rollie, have been lifelong role models for me, as well as my best friends. During a somewhat difficult childhood, those two were my “rocks.” My safe haven. My solid foundation. I grew up watching them and learning.
And after 40 years, I’m still watching this couple who has quietly been following their joy all of their lives. Through the years, they taught me how to play tennis and golf; how to be a champion at Scrabble; to love others with compassion, listen with all your heart, and be grateful for everything…and I mean, everything.
I’m so proud to be their granddaughter! They’ve traveled the globe, leading marriage workshops around the world and helping couples communicate effectively and live joyfully. The world is certainly a more loving and peaceful place because of them! In the 70’s they wrote a very successful marriage workbook together, and they recently got the idea to have it re-worked with updates and get it re-published. To our delight, they chose to pass the torch on to Bill and me to coordinate the project, and we enthusiastically and humbly accepted the honor!
Certainly feeling their age in their 80’s, this gem of a couple is continually following their joy all along. In the winter, they spend most evenings in what they call “a night at the fire,” keeping warm with intimate conversations and golden silence next to their toasty fireplace. In the summer months, they loaf on their deck overlooking the pond in their backyard, enjoying each other and marveling at nature. They play ping pong every day in their basement to keep their skills sharp, and they stopped counting their number of consecutive volleys when they hit 1,270 last year!
Sweetest of all is the little corner of their bedroom where they have a small round table and two chairs set-up. This furniture is from an old restaurant that closed its doors many years ago. The table and chairs are next to the window overlooking the pond, and this is where they have their coffee together every morning. They call this quaint little section of their bedroom “Loving Cup Café.”
After we all finished up the birthday dinner celebration, Grandma and Grandpa went up to their hotel room where they spent the night. And Bill and I walked to our car through the parking lot and passed by the big maroon car parked in the handicapped spot close to the front door. The tell-tale bumper sticker made me smile because I knew without a doubt which hotel guest this vehicle belonged to. The words read: “Listen to someone today.”
Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for teaching me the power of following my joy. Because all along you have modeled for me that life is meant to be lived, and revered, and celebrated. I love you.
Author’s note: For a great follow-up story on these two, be sure to see The Gem of Real Conversation.