STILL HOLDING HANDS
by Anita Burney
I always said my Grandma and Granddad were “storybook” grandparents.
Grandma, a little round woman with white hair, wearing an apron, and with glasses perched on the end of her nose was the woman my granddad loved with all his heart.
Granddad was stooped and white-haired, but Grandma returned that love two-fold.
Both of them doted on their three granddaughters, but since I was the youngest and the daughter of their baby daughter, I was the one who really got spoiled! Due to my mother’s illness and hospitalization, I lived with my aunt across the street from my grandparents when I was a little girl.
Every day after school, I went directly to Grandma and Granddad’s for the cookies I knew would be waiting. Munching on my cookies, I would sit at Granddad’s feet to listen to stories about the “olden days.” Granddad came to Oklahoma in a covered wagon and I loved the stories about his trek across the country. Granddad was a registered pharmacist and at the time of his death at the age of 93, he was the oldest registered pharmacist in the nation.
Neither of my grandparents ever learned to drive and one of my fondest memories is when Granddad still owned his drugstore. He walked to town every morning and at noon he closed the store and walked home for lunch.
But before he arrived, Grandma would fix lunch and then take off her apron, hang it on a nail in the kitchen, and set off walking toward town. She’d meet Granddad halfway and they would walk home together, always holding hands. They did the same thing at the end of the day.
On their 65th wedding anniversary, they were given a card with a poem on it entitled, “Let me hold your hand as we go downhill.” The verse fit them perfectly — they held hands everywhere they went.
I never heard them raise their voices. The closest either of them would come is when Grandma was fixing a meal and Granddad would steal a kiss. She’d push him away and say, “Oh, Johnny!” rather loudly, but you could tell she was pleased.
When Granddad got so feeble that Grandma could no longer care for him, their children decided it was time to send him to a nursing home. There was no way Grandma was going to be separated from him, so she went with him. There were twin beds in their room and that wouldn’t do. So, their children got them a double bed. When Granddad died of pneumonia, Grandma followed within a year.
They’ve been gone for many years now and I still miss my “storybook” Grandma and Granddad.
I never make a blackberry cobbler when I don’t think of Grandma and the blackberry patch she had in their backyard. She always made me a blackberry cobbler out of the first ripened berries and canned lots of quarts so I could have cobbler the year round.
Every time I get a whiff of somebody’s cigar, I remember Granddad with his after dinner cigar with the smoke that curled around his head as he told me those stories.
Most importantly, I never see an older couple holding hands that I don’t remember the deep love Grandma and Granddad shared.
I know they’re still holding hands in heaven.
— Anita Burney