True Love is Love That Goes the Distance


The old couple next door weren’t really our grandparents, but we called them Grandma and Grandpa, and they treated us like their very own grandkids.

I remember overhearing Daddy telling Mama, about the time of Grandma and Grandpa’s golden wedding anniversary, “In all those years, Walter never looked at another woman.”  As a child, I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I thought it sounded pretty nice.

When they were old, Grandma got cancer and Grandpa had a stroke.  They were both in pretty bad shape, but the reason they hung on for dear life, my dad said, was that neither one of them wanted to leave the other one alone.

But one day late in the fall, when the plum and crab apple trees between our house and theirs had all dropped their leaves, Grandma died.

On the day of the funeral, Daddy stayed with Grandpa so all of their relatives could go to the church.  Grandpa couldn’t talk anymore because of the stroke, but he used an alphabet card whenever he wanted to say something.  That day after the hearse drove slowly past out on the street in front of their house and ours, he motioned for his alphabet card.

With his thin, liver-spotted hand, sweet Grandpa slowly pointed to the letters that spelled out for Daddy the words he wanted to say:

“Til…death… do…us…part.”

The next week we buried Grandpa.

©Sharon Sheppard