I am witnessing a real-life adaptation of The Notebook. No, I haven’t had a steamy “fling” with a childhood friend (hard to accomplish, since I still consider myself a “kid”) while engaged. No, I have not been asked out on top of a ferris wheel while my potential beaux hangs by one hand. Instead, I have been privileged to witness the love between my maternal grandparents. My Grandma Gene has been seriously ill for more than a year. She’s been in and out of the hospital for many years for various health issues. Through it all, my grandpa has always been by my grandmother’s side. He has slowly taken over all the daily household tasks as well as Grandma’s basic, personal care.
I think back to the day of my grandparents’ wedding day, June 29, 1959. I imagine their hopes for the future. I imagine their joy as they say their vows, “In sickness and in health,… for as long as we both shall live.” They were two vibrant, healthy, young people excited to begin their lives together.
Now, Grandpa sits by Grandma’s bedside, holding her hand as they watch Turner Classic movies together on the hospital’s TV. My Grandma is slumped in the bed, tired and exhausted from a long night. She breathes oxygen from a tube in her nose while a heart monitor beeps in the background. Grandpa adjusts Grandma’s tubes and IV cords and then settles back in his chair. “Those were the good old days,” he says. “Look at how young Henry Fonda was! And Betty Davis!” Grandma opens her eyes and then starts breathing heavily. “Burt, give me some ice.” Grandpa spoons some ice chips in to her mouth to soothe her sore tongue. She sighs and looks over to my Grandpa. “Thank you,” she says. He smiles and they sit back and watch the old, romantic movie.Thankfully, my Grandma does not have Alzheimer’s disease. However, the strong love portrayed in the movie and book The Notebook is alive in my grandparents’ relationship. Grandpa has dedicated the past few years of his life to serving my grandma’s basic needs. They have shared forty-six years of married life together, through the good and bad times of family life. Their example of commitment and sacrificial love is one that shines through with more brightly than the Hollywood version. My grandparents are living out their vow of “I do.”