I took this picture last Thanksgiving.
Every year, since before I can remember we have spent Thanksgiving (and Christmas) at my grandparents house. We all gather in that house, all sixteen of us. In a house far too small for us. In a house where we set up a table in the living room because there’s no where else to sit. In a house where at 27, I still sit am still a member of the kids table, because really, do you ever graduate to the adult table? We have grown from just the four of us grandkids to now there are three great-grand kids.
This time last year we knew Dandy was in poor health. Really, he’s been in poor health for some time now. He was diagnosed with macula degeneration, prostate cancer, and eventually heart failure. He survived quadruple bypass surgery, a pacemaker, and countless eye surgeries. But this past spring it finally worsened. He began hallucinating, staying up all night, and was constantly confused. That’s when they found his brain tumor. He quickly declined to the point where Nana had to place him in a nursing home because she couldn’t care for him by herself.
Nana and Dandy have been married just a few months shy of seventy years, SEVENTY. They’ve survived WWII, the Depression, the Vietnam war, and countless other moments in history. They mourned the loss of twins, and later raised two healthy daughters, my mom and my Aunt Pam. They built their home, which was a huge accomplishment in their time, that home that we still gather in. They worked hard, Dandy was a barber, and Nana worked for Avon. They traveled the world together. They have been the center of that side of my family for as long as I can remember. Teaching us about gardening, and letting us cause chaos in their home. We built pine cone forts in their front yard, and roller skated in their basement. We would swing on that swing that still sits in their front yard.
This week I got a call from my mom telling me that Dandy had really declined. I drove up on Saturday and met my mom and Nana at the nursing home. I spent a couple hours talking, but I’m not sure Dandy never even knew we were there. Dandy passed away peacefully this morning at about 4:15. Last Thanksgiving I took this picture, and this Thanksgiving we will be celebrating his life. I think that even in the sadness of the situation, there is so much to be thankful for in these two.
Saturday I sat watching my grandmother faithfully by his side. She went to sit by his bedside every single day since he was moved into the nursing home. She arrived there before breakfast and left after she feeds him dinner. Even if he slept all day, she sat there with him. I’m amazed by that. Lord knows their marriage has had its hard times, and that at times he wasn’t the easiest man to deal with. They saw their share of trials and also shared plenty of joys. But here they are, together. It is the best picture of a marriage that I can think of. Those vows they recited the day they got married almost seventy years ago, they have kept.
To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
They have seen the better and the worse, the richer and the poorer, the sickness and the health, and here they are. I am so thankful for that example in my life, and I never realized it until now.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the Earth
Worship the Lord with gladness
come before Him with joyful songs
know that the Lord is God
It is He who made us and we are His
we are His people, the sheep of his pasture
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise
give thanks to Him and praise His name
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.