Public Displays of Affection . . . or Not

Posted by on Feb 14, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day the whole world seems to go crazy with displays of “love”. Everywhere you look there are flowers, chocolate, and public displays of affections. It reminded me of a piece from my book about legacy, All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. Today I am posting that piece. You see, I didn’t learn about love from society, television, or silly cards. I learned from people who knew what love was really about. So, here you are. Enjoy!


Public Displays of Affection . . . or Not

My dad’s parents were ranch people. They grew up in Nebraska during simpler times when the work was hard and there weren’t many frills. They lived in a sod house (where Daddy was born), and they lost everything during the Depression. When people talked about the “good old days,” Grandma would say, “They weren’t so good.” They were loving but not demonstrative, at least not toward each other in front of others. That wasn’t their way.George & Mildred 70s 0001


When Grandpa was about ninety, he developed a lump on his neck. He ignored it as it got bigger and bigger. After all, he was ninety. He didn’t expect to live forever. One day it started causing trouble with his breathing, so they took him to the hospital, rushed him sixty-five miles from Broken Bow to Kearney, Nebraska. That lump had to be removed.

The morning of surgery, the staff came in to take Grandpa to the procedure and told Grandma, “You can kiss him goodbye if you want.” To my parents’ amazement and delight, she did. It wouldn’t be considered a romantic moment by today’s standards, but it certainly impressed Daddy. After all, at age sixty-five he was watching—for the first time—his parents kiss.

During the preparations for surgery, Grandpa’s IV came apart, and he bled some. He bled enough that the doctors decided they should take him back to his room and check his heart before doing surgery. After all, he was ninety. Once he was cleared for surgery, Grandma had her chance again, and she went for it.

“Twice,” Daddy said. “I saw them kiss twice!” The look on his face when he was telling us was priceless. It was pure delight and comfort. Proof of what we all knew. They loved. (As if one hundred direct descendants and sixty-five years of marriage wasn’t enough proof.)

A couple of years later, Grandpa was hospitalized with a mild heart attack. It was caused, it turned out, by prostate cancer, and he was dying. Grandma, herself well into her 80s, couldn’t care for him at home, so they put him in the nursing home attached to the hospital. During the next six weeks, Grandma went up every day to eat lunch with him … well, at least until she figured out that he wasn’t eating when she was there in hopes she would take pity on him and take him home. She certainly wanted him home, but it was impossible, so she started going after lunch and sitting with him all afternoon.

Grandpa kept asking to see my youngest niece, who was about six months old, because he hadn’t seen her yet. So, my sister and I took the children and drove down to visit for a few days. Grandpa was miserable and in pain, but uncomplaining.

One afternoon, Cheryl brought Grandma to the nursing home to visit. We pushed her wheelchair up close to the bed where they sat in silence, holding hands. He peered at her and asked, “Do you have enough money at the house for food?”

She smiled and assured him, “Yes, George, I have plenty.” I understood something that day. Love isn’t just about hugs and kisses. It isn’t about telling someone they are beautiful or handsome. It certainly isn’t just about romance. Love is about caring and providing. It is about sharing your lives, both the good and the bad.

I wonder, in today’s world, where demonstrations of affection are everywhere you look, is it really better? After all, Grandpa and Grandma Jones were married for sixty-seven years. Theirs was a grand love story, and no one who knew them would doubt it for one moment. I sure didn’t doubt it that day in the nursing home.George & Mildred  (2)


“When we were young, there wasn’t much divorce. If you didn’t like each other one day, you just waited a few days until you did.” ~ Grandma Jones


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