My grandparents celebrated their 53rd anniversary on October 20, 2019.
The first anniversary with my grandfather watching down from Heaven as my grandma's guardian angel. And I thought there was no better time than today to reflect on their epic love story (which, I can guarantee, is far better than any iteration of "Romeo and Juliet" you have heard).
My grandparents, Darlene and Bud, technically met in elementary school, but they began dating when they were in high school. So, high school sweethearts, as many would say. He would shout over to her, "Hey, you!" as charming as can be. And to make things seem even more stereotypical, yes, he was the popular bad boy of this old-fashioned love story.
He was a Key Club Officer, which instantly elevated any and all popularity back-in-the-day, and at every single football game he would have a packet of cigarettes in the upper part of his leather jacket and a flask at his waistband. But what makes this different from "Grease" is that he wasn't actually the bad boy he pretended to be. He never actually smoked the cigarettes or had anything in the flask. And to throw another twist into the story, my grandma was NOT interested in any bad boy — but he thought this would impress her! As this love story unfolds, it becomes very clear this is dimensions away from any cliche you could ever think of.
This is epic.
Despite her initial disregard for him, he was love-struck, and anyone struck by the love bug knows how persistent it makes you! (For example, sliding a note into your crush's locker... yea, we're all guilty of it). But she finally agreed to go out with him, after about ten asks. The challenge wasn't over yet, though — my grandma's father was a Navy man, and if he said curfew was eleven, her date had better bring her home by eleven!
And, go figure, 20 minutes before curfew, 15 minutes from her house, my grandpfather's car sputtered to a stop. It was out of gas and as dead as he feared he would be when they had to trudge to the nearest payphone to call her mother.
She hadn't ever seen a boy so frightened. He finally got his chance to take her out, and now he was going to bring her home late.
She couldn't help but chuckle, though, knowing in her heart everything would be perfectly fine. Because it had been a magical night at the fair... a type of magic neither had ever experienced before. It was the type of magic that throws sparks into the air when two souls that were made for one another surge together, like two electrifyingly perfect puzzle pieces finally merging – it was the type of magic that only ignites when a pair of soulmates finally find one another.
So rare and so awestriking, the idea of love at first sight. And not even a late curfew could break this love apart — the devotion, the adoration, the beauty, it solidified in their souls that night. And it never faded, not for 52 Earthly years…
Not even when they had to leave the state at 18 to get legally married at a courthouse. A runaway marriage, an elopement. Adventurous. Impulsive. Exciting. And her mother fully supported her, in the purest way.
His parents, however, were quite opposing. His mother wanted him to go to law school before the word marriage ever even entered his mind, and his father believed he couldn't survive out in the world so young with his "champagne appetite on a beer diet!" I can tell you, he survived seventy years on that champagne appetite, and I have seemed to inherit it (for better or worse…)!
They even got their own apartment immediately after they got married, ready to start their new adventure in life.
And they worked incredibly hard for that apartment, for the life they were constructing. They dealt with an alcoholic landlord, who even had a grey bus piled high with whiskey bottles and would open his tenants' doors in the middle of the night, and even wilder neighbors who once got drunk and started throwing glasses, beer bottles, and plates everywhere when the Yankees began losing.
Running out of their apartment complex to the safety of a phonebooth across the street to escape the dangers of their neighbor's baseball party might sound far from today's idea of perfect, far from a fairytale dream in a castle. But it was their fairytale, that was centered around the deepest, most real love I have ever heard about.
With this kind of love, no obstacle could stand in their way.
And it was just the start of this magically epic romance — this soulmate kind of love existed between them for the rest of their lives. They never left each other, they never stopped loving or protecting each other.
Their love story is like a million-dollar antique, it is unreal and unheard of in today's day and age.
But I've heard it. I've listened to the stories and witnessed the unmatched adoration. And it has taught me how I want to be treated in my relationships, in the past, present, and future.
My expectations may be high, but that's because I know they're possible.
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