I wear a ring on my right hand. It is a classy, simple diamond set on a yellow gold band. It is one of the most beautiful rings I’ve ever seen and I’m blessed to get to wear it every day. It probably hasn’t been cleaned in twenty years and it still sparkles like the sun. My Grandpa bought it for my Grandma in the late 50s to ask for her hand in marriage. He was in his 40s and had found the love to share the rest of his life with. They have a very devastatingly beautiful story. The kind of story that young girls watch in a movie and cry their eyes out to. Yes, my Grandparents have a love story that outshines the Notebook.
I was never blessed to meet my Grandmother, but I’m told she was stunning. That she had the most ethereal presence and that people stopped and stared when she walked into a room. She could command a room just by simply walking in and smiling. I’ve seen pictures and she is beautiful. She’s a bigger woman with an even bigger heart. Even from the pictures, you can tell that she was a happy and assured woman. I would have loved to grow up learning from her. I love looking at pictures from her wedding to my Grandfather. You’d think they were the only two in the room the way love just exudes from them. Wearing her wedding band and engagement ring that she wore for a short time somehow makes me feel closer to her and if that’s all I can get, I will take it every day for the rest of my life. It’s an honor to have.
My Grandmother and Grandfather met, I believe, during the second World War while they were young. They became friends quickly, but after having to part ways, my Grandmother was married to another man and my Grandfather married a woman named Jess. The man my Grandmother married ended up treating her very poorly, but with three kids with him, she stayed. My Grandfather’s marriage to Jess went sour as well and they got a divorce. All of this time, my Grandparents stayed in touch. They always remained good friends and eventually that friendship turned into a very powerful love. My Grandmother ended up leaving her abusing husband and married my Grandfather. My Grandfather cherished her, adored her, and adopted her three kids to take them on as his own. For the rest of her life, he provided for and protected her fiercely with the kind of devotion that only a true love can provide.
After their wedding, they wanted to start a family of their own. They wanted to solidify the little family they had started by creating new life together. My father was their first born and shortly after he came into this world, they were pregnant with another child, my Uncle Joe. At the age of 47 years old and after just a few short years of marriage to the love of his life, my Grandpa watched my Grandma give birth to their last child. And then just a couple weeks later, she died from complications of the birth. He was left in this world without a mother to his five children and without a wife to love.
He spent the rest of his life keeping his promise to his late wife to take care of their five children. He worked tirelessly and taught them discipline, sacrifice, and love. And he never loved another woman. As a child, I always wondered why my Old Grandpa never seemed to move on. I thought it was ridiculously sad that he spent the rest of his years alone. Now that I’m an adult and I have a failed marriage behind me as well, however, I know exactly what happened to his heart. I believe he lived the rest of his life still in love with the only woman to ever captivate him. He had no need to move on or find another because he had shared his one great love of a lifetime. To try to share his heart with anyone else would have been blasphemy because it already belonged to another. I never got to see my Grandparents together as a married couple, but if how my Grandfather treated me is any indication of the depth of love he gave my Grandmother, I can only imagine how happy they were to be with each other.
I didn’t know about the beginnings of my Grandparents’ story together until I was an adult. I was shocked to hear the scandal of it. Both of them recently divorced and my Grandma possibly even falling for my Grandpa while she was still married. I knew that they had been over the moon in love during their short marriage and that my Grandpa never lost the love he shared with my Grandma, but I had no idea the rocky road they traveled to get to each other.
The ring I wear on my right hand and the story of love that it symbolizes gives me tremendous hope. I have had a marriage that didn’t work out how I had wanted it to. I have been in a place of questioning. I have wondered if I will ever find someone in life that will know every deep part of me and love me in the way my Grandfather loved my Grandmother. And something about knowing their beginning gives me hope that it will work out. That beauty can shine through heartache. That a failed marriage doesn’t mean a failed life. That if I am open to what comes to me, I can have a once in a lifetime kind of love. And that there is love that can be found with another person that can keep me full until my dying days. A love that would turn finding someone new into a waste of time because the great love of my lifetime would always be in my heart. So, I will continue to wear this ring for the rest of my life. Just as my Grandmother did. And every time I look at it, I will see hope. Hope that a love like my Grandparents’ love can exist. And hope that I will find it. And I’m sure that both of them are in Heaven right now, holding hands, watching my life unfold and hoping for the same thing.