Today is Sept. 11, 2011. I want to write about my grandparents. They were married Sept. 11, 1949.
My grandmother is an over-doer. She re-vacuums after the maid, wanting the marks to be in straight lines. She’s up until wee hours baking cornbread for Thanksgiving dressing. She serves on maddeningly political and bureaucratic church and community boards out of duty and loyalty.
She had it easier when her beloved Bob Hall was alive. My funny, gracious grandfather never overthought a thing. One summer at their South Alabama lake house, the two of them bought a new pontoon boat on a Wednesday afternoon rather than repair the one my teenage friends destroyed by pulling too much weight on skiis.
“We didn’t want you to be here the rest of the week without a boat,” he said. He didn’t want her to be boatless, a house full of teenagers.
He created fun and lightened tense moods.
He joked about the Great Depression and his plane being shot down over the Pacific in World War II.
He had no sense of direction and stopped constantly (for picnics, for Donuts, for roadside attractions) during meandering, detour-fraught road trips. He ignored her audible frustration from the passenger seat.
She was good for him, too.
When they lived in Birmingham in the 1950s, she was in a ladies group that met to do volunteer work and discuss the issues of the day. She was flagrant in her embrace of civil rights, a less-than-popular stance my grandfather warned might get them into trouble.
In New York in the 80s, his business associates enjoyed talking to her – I’m guessing – as much for her willingness to debate and engage them intellectually as for her deeply Southern (say it “Munt-gum-ry”) accent.
She invited friends, preachers and extended family members into their home for dinners, holidays, long weekends and whole summers.
They raised two bright, independent, fiercely strong daughters. My mother is easy-going and makes everyone feel special. My aunt is adventurous and makes everyone feel understood.
My grandparents were in love when his death parted them in 1999.
That last Christmas, he could take hardly a step without losing his breath. My grandmother ordered all her own gifts from catalogues, then wrapped them herself when they arrived via UPS truck. But at some point during the holiday season Bob snuck out of the house, drove himself to the drugstore, and bought her a box of chocolates. It was small and significant.
On Sept. 11 – 2011, 2001, and all the others to come – I want my grandmother to think of nothing but love.
For on this day 62 years ago, she married her Bob.
Happy Anniversary to her, and blessings to all those with warm memories on dates like this one.