I've been meaning to write about our trip last weekend but we've all been fighting colds and I just didn't even have the energy to do anything. We traveled to the farm in Canada for Munchkie's Daddy's grandparents anniversary last weekend and spent time with Munchkie's Daddy's side of the family. The first time I met his side of the family, it was shocking to me how different families can be. I was warned at that time of the ornery and sarcastic Poppa and the forgetful Nana. It's only been a few years since that initial meeting and it seems that there has been quite a transformation since then. I was quite scared of Poppa, he made fun of people and was brutally honest to those around him. He told me I looked like a flying kangaroo (whatever that is!) and that he sure wouldn't want to see what my mom looked like (indicating that I was bad enough to look at). Nana was so sweet, telling repetitive stories of when she was young and giving advice from her life experiences.
Now several years later we have seen the progression of Alzheimer's and how it effects everyone involved. When I first met them I wondered what brought them together, what made such opposites fall in love and start a family. As we celebrated their 55 years of marriage I could see the love and tenderness that brought them together. I was touched at the transformation in a grumpy, ornery old man who spent his life working the farm and promptly being served dinner at 6:30pm every night. I could see the loving glances and kind eyes turning towards his bride. I could see that he now has taken the position of caregiver and provider for the wife who is slowly slipping away. A disease that can slowly creep up and sometimes goes unnoticed for years can change an entire family's dynamic and transform the most stubborn of people.
I think that "back in the day" it was supposed to be the manly thing to avoid emotion and be almost harsh towards family members. The man of the house was supposed to rule with an iron fist and under no circumstances show any kind of soft spot. Once these men grow and mature they start to realize the life they have built around themselves. How can you not be touched at a beautiful family of children, grandchildren, and super cute great granddaughter (wink wink)? When you add to that an increasingly more dependent wife it's pretty impossible to continue to avoid emotion.
The love that may not have been so apparent throughout the years now is visible. It gives me hope that in 50 years Munchkie's Daddy and I can have a marriage that can come through anything. There are so many things in life that can bring you down, so many things that can pull a family apart. What dedication and commitment it takes to be married for 55 years. Most young couples (myself included) say the words "for better or worse" flippantly and don't really stop to realize what those words really mean. This means financial struggles, difficult times, and when you think you're finally catching a break, your health may fail you. It is truly a testament of the love for one another and commitment to promises made that can get a couple through all of these situations.
On my first trip to the farm in Canada I never would have imagined the weekend that we had last weekend. I never would have thought that the kind sweet Nana would not be able to remember who I was. I never would have thought Poppa would have such kindness and love in his eyes. Amazing how much things can change in just a few years. I hope that I can learn many lessons from the weekend of celebrating 55 years of marriage.