My grandmother was a fairy. One look at the wispy silver-grey hair that held various clips to make a crown would banish all doubts of this fact from her mythical domain. I remember listening to her vibrant stories while sitting in the over-grown and wild garden that was the back yard. She would throw her hands this way and that while changing the tone and tempo of the tale accordingly. Yes, she was certainly a fantastic creature who seemed to pop out from a child’s book.
My grandfather, I called him Papa, was not a mythological being. He was tall and slender with a wave of hair forever on his forehead. He had his own stories, but they didn’t seem to have that magical quality that Grandma possessed in telling them. His stories included those of World War II and of his tour of duty. Wise with money, he was constantly irritated with the things that Grandma accumulated and stored on any flat surface of the house until only a two foot path remained linking rooms together.
Quite an odd couple I would say. These two beings bickered and fought most of their lives together but they never gave in. They never threw in the towel, but continued in the boxing ring sometimes known as marriage.
Eight years ago, Papa’s health began to fail. They no longer spent their days in the castle, but in the palace of Uncle Nathan and Aunt Dorothy and there they remained for several months.
Very late one night we got a call sending my family straight to the hospital. We hastily entered the fortress of darkness. Finally allowed in, we walked through the doors to the operating room where she lay. Grandma had suffered a heart attack. The mythical creature had suddenly left her kingdom and left us with many souvenirs to sort through.
Papa continued on the road to recovery and started making significant progress. We visited him while he was in hospice care; however, Uncle Paul was his most frequent visitor. Every time we were there he would speak of her. It was obvious that the bombshell of her unexpected death hit him the hardest.
Even though it seemed he was making progress, we eventually found ourselves back in the waiting room of the hospital. The doctors came in and gave us the news. Papa had gone to be with his life-long boxing opponent as it were. After the shock of this second death within five weeks, I remember Uncle Paul telling us that the night before Papa died he told him, “My heart hurts because I didn’t give her all that she wanted.”
Even though my grandparents didn’t get along well, they still loved each other tremendously. I believe love does not come easily. It is not simply a feeling of infatuation, but an ongoing struggle where, in the end, the love that comes out is stronger than any dragon that might challenge the strength of that castle. True love takes effort.