Saturday, October 8, 2011
I came across this wonderful story years ago and, just this morning, I came across it again. For you ...
My grandparents were married for over half a century, and they had their own special game they played, beginning on the day they first fell in love.
The object of their game was for each to write the word "shmily" in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving "shmily" all around the house and, as soon as one of them discovered it, it was then the other's turn to hide it once more.
They dragged "shmily" with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. they wrote it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio, where grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding. "Shmily" was written in the steam left on the mirror, after a hot shower, where it would reappear time and again after each bath. At one point, grandma even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave "shmily" on the very last sheet for grandpa to find.
There was no end to the places "shmily" would pop up. Little notes with "shmily" scribbled on them were found on the dashboard in the car, on car seats, or taped to the steering wheel. The notes were stuffed inside shoes, in bureau drawers, and left under pillows on the bed. "Shmily" was written in the dust on the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents' house as was the furniture.
It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents' game. Skepticism long kept me from believing in true love, one that is pure and enduring; however, I never doubted my grandparents' relationship. They had love down pat. But it was more than their flirtatious little game -- it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on devotion and passionate affection, which not everyone is lucky enough to experience.
Grandma and grandpa held hands every chance they got. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other's sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle. My grandma once whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew "how to pick 'em." Before every meal, they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and of course, each other.
But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents' life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside. Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane, and grandpa's steady hand, they went to church every morning.
Grandma grew steadily weaker, until finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For awhile, grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma passed away.
"Shmily". It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandma's funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around my grandma one last time.
Grandpa stepped up to grandma's casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby. Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn't begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty:
S-h-m-i-l-y: "See How Much I Love You."
Posted by CJ Parrish Kempf Heck at 4:52 PM