I’m a sap for a good love story. I am particularly fond of this one.
I guess you could say they’ve known each other their whole lives. They were married far longer than they were single, 66 years 10 months to be exact. They met in grade school. In fact, my grandmother and her brother had to walk about 3/4 mile to catch the bus. The bus stop just happened to be at my grandfather’s house. Some may say it was luck or coincidence, I prefer to call it a planned intervention by God to mingle these two hearts together.
In time, their friendship grew into love. In fact, my grandfather said, “She’s always been my one and only. There has never been any other woman I have ever loved.”
As their love grew, so did their desire to get married. The only caveat. They were young. He was 16. She was 17. Their parents didn’t object to marriage but told them they would have to elope to South Carolina. They did. On a balmy July day, Troy and Colleen along with their two witnesses, traveled from Hickory, NC to South Carolina and eloped.
This was the story I heard from my grandmother for years and years. It was only the night before she died that I learned the rest of the story.
“Well honey, lets just say I grew up and became 18 quickly,” Popaw said. My initial thought was he was simply saying marriage grew him up quickly. The curl of his lips told me that it meant something entirely different. Then it hit me. I knew exactly what he was telling me.
“Oh my gosh, you lied about your age, didn’t you?” I inquired.
“One of us had to be 18 and I was the logical choice. All I had to do was sign a document stating I was 18.” He replied.
“Are you kidding? I didn’t know you ever told a lie.” I blurted. Suddenly, I realized that this was his first admission. They had never told anyone, not even their own children. “Of all the stories she told me, not once did she ever tell me your secret.”
In the stillness of the moment I could feel the satisfaction rising in Mamaw, even in her comatose state, she seemed satisfied that their secret was out and I knew it.
As we continued to talk, I realized that the majority of their formative years were spent together. Here we were at the end of her life and he knew every detail of her entire life history. And she knew his life history as well. They had grown up together and old together. Their lives were molded together. They loved through thick and thin. They were friends and lovers. Being together never got old, they always found a reason to laugh and talk and love. Their lives had truly become one.
Finally the time had come for me to go. I needed sleep in the worst way and Popaw needed to be with her. His beloved. They needed to spend their last night together just as they had their first….alone with each other.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance…..Love never fails” I Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT