I don’t particularly enjoy getting older. I don’t hide my age (43 and counting) nor do I do anything cosmetically for my ever deepening wrinkles (yet). I do have my hair highlighted lighter then I would like to hide the grays and I’m starting to have trouble reading small print. But, the part of aging that I don’t like has nothing at all to do with any of this.
My Grandpa has a girlfriend.
Gram had a tough end to her life before she passed a few years ago. Watching our parents, grandparents and loved ones age and sometimes suffer, before they pass on, is the part of getting older that I don’t like. Since, we left on this RV trip five months ago, several loved ones in my life have had to say goodbye to a parent that they deeply loved. It makes me want to keep everyone around me in a bubble where time stands still. I don’t mind if I age, I just don’t want those I love the most to, because it ultimately means we are one day closer to having to say goodbye. And with the end of a life, comes change for all. You just don’t know what that means until you have to go through it.
It’s strange, surreal, weird or whatever you want to call it, seeing Grandpa holding hands with another woman. I don’t think any of us will ever get totally used to it. He is nearly 88 years old and living in sin. (Now that makes me laugh actually.) But, it’s tough. He and Grandma were married for 63 years. Gramps (as we grandkids affectionally call him) was by her side through it all. It’s a lesson in marriage that I believe has been passed on through our family’s generations. My parents and my Aunts and Uncles have long time marriages. My cousins are all married and my sister is in a happy marriage as well. I am blessed to be married almost 17 years to my best friend too. There’s no denying that life is good with a loving companion by your side.
I tell my parents to please not do this to me and my kids one day. I really don’t care to see my Dad, at any age, galavanting around with another woman. We laugh about it, but only God knows what lies ahead. What I do know is that life is short and it should be lived however makes us happy. Bottom line.
Grandma was a simple person. Soft spoken and set in her small town ways. I always felt unconditionally loved by this woman and I miss the comfort of that. I miss her handwritten letters and the laughter during our games of Boggle. No one will ever take the place of her in my heart. But, I also know that Grandpa sacrificed a part of himself during his days with her. He would talk of vacationing on a cruise or traveling to faraway places, but with Grandma it just wasn’t going to happen.
Today Gramps is on the first cruise vacation of his life at almost 88 years old. Good for him. Without his newfound love, he wouldn’t be here on this ship with us though. I can’t help but feel grateful that he has found a companion that is getting him out, living his life, even if it’s tough for all of us to take in. She is a lovely person and you can’t help but like her. Sometimes I feel guilty for liking her. There are times when it seems “normal” that she is there by his side and then Gramps will simply say to me, “your Grandma made the best cherry pie” or “her brownies were so delicious” and the memories come flooding back. Then all of this newness in front of me feels uncomfortable and wrong.
But, it’s not wrong. It is very right because we all deserve a loving companion by our side and to live our life to the fullest until the end. However that may turn out for us. Memories from the past can keep us from embracing the present if we let them. I’m grateful for the wisdom that comes with aging and that I can accept this new relationship even though it’s not always easy. I’m grateful that my Grandpa is happy and healthy and that we could spend the week with he and his girlfriend. We love you Gramps!