Recently I had the opportunity to visit my grandparents who live south of Tampa, Florida. My grandfather, who will actually be 98 on Halloween, was a World War II paratrooper who fought courageously in the South Pacific to defend the freedoms that so many Americans blindly (and ignorantly) take for granted or even complain about (a topic for another day). Grandpa became a father during the war, a bit of blessed news during an otherwise hellishly dark time. He went on to have other children with his first wife, but sadly she passed away.
Eventually he met my grandmother, a fiery (and equally stubborn) Southern lady who grew up on a farm, knew how to work, and had a gentle (and genteel) soul to match her inner-steel. In 1977 they married and he became the only grandpa that I really knew.
As I watched these two love-birds in their "golden age" of life for my five days with them, I saw how different and simple their eternal love really is and I can't help but wonder if perhaps there were not some lessons that we could all learn from it.
At 97, love is not big vacations or fancy dinners or new jewelry or new cars.
Love at 97 is worrying that your spouse drinks enough water during the day, that their favorite music is playing because it soothes the mind, and reading the highlights from the sports section because they can't see well enough to do so themselves.
At 97, love is not trim bodies, designer clothes, new shoes or who is right.
Love at 97 is making sure your spouse's nose is clear, that they aren't coughing because they are choking on their last bite, that they have on comfortable socks with grip tape on the bottom so they can shuffle across the floor safely and arguments are playful banter where the goal is to agree, not win.
At 97, love is not parties or purchases or social acceptance.
Love at 97 is about talking about anything and everything or nothing at all, about making sure that the right pills are taken at the right time, and wondering when your grand kids will call their grandfather because you love him and want him to be loved, too.
At 97, love is not rushing anything or criticism or arguing over what to watch.
Love at 97 is about stocking the freezer with your spouse's favorite Klondike Bars, about trying different health smoothies for their nutrition, and about making your spouse get out of their chair themselves because you want them to maintain their independence as much as possible.
At 97, love is not about about how the toothpaste sits, how the money is spent, who did (or didn't) do the dishes and whose mom was right.
Love at 97 is about putting your spouse's dentures in to soak overnight, cleaning up the dishes (and cooking) because your spouse is too weak and sticking together inseparably no matter what others may say or do to you.
At 97, love is not about you, it is about them.
Love at 97 is far better than most of us can imagine and something we should all strive, forgive, hope, and pray for. It is about pure love, selfless love, with an eye single to serving your loved one and putting their needs first.
I pray that we may all find, develop, cherish and cultivate such a love story in our own lives!