This is the first picture my grandparents ever made together, taken in 1937. On the back my grandma wrote "Just buddies!" - but I have seen her highschool text books where she practiced writing "Mrs. Harold Wright" and "Meryle Wright" over and over.
My grandfather was a wild youth in the back hills of Kentucky. Mommaw got her hands on him and straightened him out, a job she never gave up on for the rest of her life though he turned into the sweetest, most God-fearing man you could hope to find. They were such a pair, after 65 years of marriage I think they really felt they were a part of each other. The year and a half after Poppaw passed away, Mommaw seemed to have lost her will to live. I think all the difficult health problems she had dealt with for years had been tolerable when they were together, and then when she was caring for him, but without him there she gave in. We all knew that she was ready to go when she died peacefully in her sleep this past March.
I think I am lucky that the last few years my grandparents were alive I was old enough to know them for a little while as people, rather than as only my grandparents. Now I am able to look back and admire my grandmother's courage in living alone with her young daughter while her new husband was off in WWII. I am able to understand the hard work my grandfather put in to move his family from Kentucky farmlands to a comfortable suburban life in Cincinnati. When I remember them now, I remember my grandmother telling me of the latest historical novel she had been reading; I remember my grandfather staying up late at night to read his Bible; I remember my grandmother's beautifully elegant hands and my grandfather's hands skilled at carving and other wood crafts. As I grow older I understand the little bits of them that have passed down to me, and I am hopeful of continuing their tradition of strength in adversity, of hard work and perseverance and the basic - and to me admirable - realization of the American dream. My grandparents thought this country the best in the World, my grandfather fought for these ideals. I am much more cynical, but when I think of what they were able to accomplish, and the life they were able to build here, I am hopeful as well.