My Grandmother is the only living Grandparent that I still have. This past weekend she turned 82-years-old, and let me tell you, my heart rejoices in that.
My husband and I, along with most of our family, traveled to the small town that raised half of my blood-line, to celebrate. Joppa, Alabama didn’t know what was coming when all those cars flooded the driveway of the old house.
We had dinner and sat around telling “Mama Rue” stories. I have never laughed so hard in my life listening to the stories that flooded that living room. The southern accents permeated the room making the stories twice as funny. My grandmother was a hoot as a young woman and quite different towards me and my sisters as she was towards her children. It was as if for those few hours all the sadness or pain that 82 years may have brought, there were moments and moments and more moments that we could all reflect on and rejoice over her.
She was a farm wife, which is a hard life, but she was good at it. She will never know anything but farming and cooking, and she’s the happiest about that. Her greatest joy though, well, it was her man. The man that took her on as his bride and cherished her like ivory for over 50 years.
“What was your first date with Papa Doc?” we asked her.
“Well, he came over to me after a church sangin’ and asked if he could carry me home. I told him ‘well I don’t know Doc’, and he said ‘well you reckon you can tell me who does?’ and I looked at him and laughed and said ‘well, I reckon my Daddy.’ So Doc asked my Daddy if he could carry me home. Doc drove me home from church that night. That was our first date. I was 15 and he was 24.”
That age difference would never fly today.
That man, my grandfather, set the stage. He set the stage for men and their actions. He was a tough man, he took risks, he made mistakes, and yes, he even could drive my grandmother crazy, but at the end of the day, he was the man.
He wasn’t the man because he was the main provider for the household or controlling of his wife, don’t get any ideas. He was the man because he KNEW what he had and he fought for it. Every. single. day. He knew that he had found a wife worth rubies, children that were a part of him, and that his responsibility was not to just provide for them, but to be present for them. He knew what it meant to cherish his wife. He knew what it meant to teach his children. The best part of it all? They all cherished him too.
His sons married and are reflections of their father. They work hard, they fight for their marriages, and they are present for their family. They are constant in the good and the bad. They challenge each other. The best part of that? Their children have found men just. like. them.
My husband, 5 years ago today, walked 6 miles in the snow to ask me out. His mama wouldn’t let him drive, so he walked. He asked my daddy permission to take me to prom, and 5 years later, here we are. He provides for us, he dreams for us, he never lets a day go by that he doesn’t think about us.
My brothers-in-law, well, they are representations of real men. They take care of my sisters. They love them, they make them laugh, and they are present fathers to their children. They honor my sisters with the way they live their lives. My heart swells up with pride when I spend time with them. I can’t even tell that they aren’t blood related to me anymore. They are men. REAL men. They set a standard of what all men should be.
I have pondered Valentine’s Day over and over. My husband and I spent our energy spreading love to others and not a dime on one another.
I realized something this morning. My husband makes every day Valentine’s Day. He celebrates me when he goes to work every morning. He celebrates me when he prays with me. He celebrates me when I am sick and when I am healthy. He celebrates me with patience for my sassy attitude and laughter to my bad jokes. He celebrates his bride by choosing her every single day.
A real man doesn’t just buy flowers for his wife for cheesy holidays (although it’s a very thoughtful and kind gesture) Real men sacrifice to be what the world tells them is wrong.
Real men are the ones that are still talked about when they are in heaven and their wife is 82.