Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grampa goes a Courtin'

Many of my older heros don't waste much time. After a year has gone by following the passing of the love of their life, they've usually picked out another spouse and it's just a matter of time.

Scripture teaches that, "It is not good for man to be alone." (Gen 2:18)

Robert D. Hales, Dallin H. Oaks, Russell M. Nelson all married again after the deaths of their wives. Through the years I've met lovely women who never marry. Some, I believe, are holding out to support a windowed LDS General Authority. I've never actually picked one who did.

The demands of old age need spousal support whether you are crisscrossing the globe negotiating away barriers as an LDS Apostle or just trying to make the Social Security Check stretch.

The odd couple combination of Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau made a couple of movies under the banner of Grumpy Old Men. When Ann Margaret moved into the house across the street, both men were "interested" Ann chose Jack Lemon and the two married opening a new chapter in both their lives--with a retaliatory rotting little fish stinkin' up the getaway limo courtesy of Matthau, the best man.

By the time a man qualifies as a Grampa several good things have happened in his life. Emotionally he's generally stable--not driven by hormones like a teenage suitor. Grampa has learned something of common courtesies and the elusive charm that youngsters are still developing. Grampa is gracious enough to let her have the last word.

He has learned to occasionally begin conversations with words like, "I'm sorry. I'm not sure just what it is that's bothering you --but it's probably my fault, so before we get to far into it, please, let me apologize!"

He understands the language of flowers, when to bring them--where to get them--and how to offer a little potted plant instead of the cut flowers that will die in a few days.

If Grampa is courting for companionship, it's likely to be a reasonably long and gradual process.

My good friend Louis lost his Mabel and kept going to church. A sweet single lady friend would watch when Louis came into the chapel and would gently go sit next to him. He was still grieving and barely noticed at first. An invitation to dinner at her home, and slowly Louis began to notice. They've been happily married for many years.

It helps if the husband and wife talk about what might happen in the marriage department if one or the other goes first. Most wives are left alone when an older husband passes first. Occasionally the wife leaves mortality before her husband--and the need to go a courtin' makes itself known.

Once in a while, both go within minutes of one another. An older friend, years ago, could no longer do for his wife. Both were in their 90s. A dutiful son took him and a caring daughter too her and in a few months the older woman died peacefully in her sleep. The sister called her brother to let him know, and he went in and awakened the older husband.

"I just stayed around to take care of mamma." the husband told his son in law. He turned over and went back to sleep. Within a few minutes he had gone to meet his wife.

Grampa goin' courtin' may be necessary--and it's a lot like riding a bicycle -- it may take a couple of tries, but after a while Grampa will get right back into his "groove" with a lot more sensitivity and caring than a younger man.

I saw my dear friends Reed and Sharon at Walmart shopping for flowers for their garden--something most husbands expect their wives to. It's a "Chick" thing to many virile younger men. Reed and Sharon were holding hands as she examined the blooms and blossoms and he nodded with a big smile. I sneaked up on them so they couldn't see me, grabbed his arm and chuckled out, "Y'know now that you've been married all these months, you don't have to hold hands while you're shopping for flowers at Walmart!

Reed just smiled and squeezed Sharon's hand when he said, "I've never learned not to!"

Reed had been widowed for several years--Sharon had been divorced for many years. When the two congregations merged they noticed each other. After a few months he began calling on her and soon they passed out invitations to a temple wedding on a Wednesday at 10:00 AM. I smiled when I got the invitation. Most folks they invited would be working and unable to attend. The reception followed the ceremony and that's just what they wanted: An intimate affair with just close friends and family. As the joined fingers at Walmart indicate--they're still on honeymoon.

Hope for courtin' Grampas everywhere. JRH

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