Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of my grandmother’s passing, and it hit me a little harder than I would like to admit. If there was any woman in my life who was a mother figure, who was there for me as a mother should have been…it was her. She raised me. And, in so, so many ways, I am an echo of her spirit. For this, I am proud.
She was always a strong woman. Even when she was struck blind in her 30’s, she never let her ‘disability’ stop her. In fact, she would never even acknowledge that she had a disability. She was an unstoppable force. Her strength was things that stories are made of. She was passionate, outspoken, smart (even though she only had a 5th grade education) and had an uncanny ability to see through people as if they were crystal, even without the use of her eyes. She was my hero.
As I got to thinking about her yesterday, I remember a story that she loved to tell me in my childhood over and over again: the story about how she met my grandfather; the man she was married to for over 50 years. And it’s that story I want to share with you now.
She was a telephone operator. She worked long days and walked to and from a tiny apartment she shared with a female roommate at the time. She had moved from West Virginia to Washington D.C. to get away from her family and to live her life. The year was 1935.
One chilly November day, she was walking home from a long shift at work, when a cab driver pulled to the side of the road and asked her if she needed a ride to wherever she was going. She blatantly told the “old man” to buzz off, and subsequently called him a pervert. She could take care of herself. And as she walked home, he meekly followed behind her in his cab, hoping she would change her mind. From that day forward, he relentlessly pursued her.
Unstoppable force, meet, immovable object.
Every day, for a week after that, my grandfather waited outside her work every day at the same time, waiting for her to come out. Every day, he would offer her a ride. And every day she turned him down.
After the third day, it became a game between the two of them. She started to smile when she saw his cab out front, and realized that this guy might be different, he might not be like the rest and that no matter what she did to get rid of this guy, he just wouldn’t go away. And she was right.
On the sixth day, she finally said “yes”.
And from there on out, she never stopped saying it…at least when it came to him.
A year later, they were married. They packed their bags, and traveled across the country, getting married in over 17 states as they made one of their final road trips to settle in Reno, Nevada. He told her that if she ever left him, he wanted her to have to divorce him in every single state they were married in, so that she would have time to come to her senses and come back to him. Needless to say, that never happened.
When I was 11, and first entering my hopeless romantic stage, I asked her once (after she had told me this story for the 100th time -- and I never got tired of it, by the way) how she knew he was “the one”. She smiled, and told me that on the third day, when he pulled over to come and get her, she just “knew”.
If ever there was a pairing that was perfect for one another, it was them. It was as if they were the same person, merely inhabiting two bodies. I dare say that they were “meant” for each other. They bantered, they joked, they fought, they held hands, they kissed, they made up and they both died deeply, deeply in love, (within months of one another) almost 51 years to the day they first met in November.
Because sometimes, when you know, you just “know”.
What about you? How did/do YOU “know”?
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