Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Today I added a DearReader link to my blog. I originally signed up for DearReader's Nonfiction Book Club so I could verify that e-mails were being sent daily, and to check links back to our catalog. This is a service we provide to our customers, available from the Reader's Corner in AquaBrowser and HIP, and I like to be sure it's working properly.

But I find myself looking forward to reading Suzanne's musings every day. She writes about very mundane things, but makes them sound so interesting and applicable to events in my own life, that I can't wait to find out what she is going to write next. Suzanne is on vacation in the Smoky Mountains for 2 weeks and has other people writing her column while she is gone. Today's was written by Deborah Raney, fiction author of "In the still of the night", "A vow to cherish", "Beneath a southern sky", and "Over the waters". Her story is so beautiful and tender, I'd like to share it here.
Dear Reader,

A couple very dear to me split up a few weeks ago. These days, it's not really news when long-married people go their separate ways. But this split was too close to home. This was my husband's grandparents, who've been part of my life for three decades--since the day I walked into their farmhouse as a fresh-faced teenager, only to have Grandpa razz me about being just one of a string of
girlfriends Ken had brought out to meet them.

It wasn't long before I learned to read that ornery twinkle in Grandpa's eye. Soon I could dish his tongue-in-cheek teasing right back, even as Grandma dished up her famous fried chicken and made-from-scratch chocolate cake.

Throughout the lean years of our marriage Grandma and Grandpa never sent us away without fresh-dug potatoes, jars of home-canned tomatoes or homemade cinnamon rolls Grandma kept in the deep freeze for anyone who might drop by.

Our photo albums are crowded with images of Grandma and Grandpa cradling our babies. They were never too busy for great-grandchildren's birthday parties or ballgames.

Through trials and tragedies, Ken's grandparents modeled undying commitment. So it hit hard when they split up.

Oh, it's not that the split was their choice. It was a heart-wrenching decision after Grandpa began to wander away from home, and Grandma's failing eyesight and four-foot-eleven stature kept her from going after him. In recent months, we would come to visit and the vacant stare, the missing twinkle in his eyes, told the truth. Still, his stock greeting was, "Come on in! I don't know who you are, but we sure do love you."

Then one day Grandma couldn't get Grandpa up out of his chair, and the difficult decision was made to move him to a nursing home. Ken and I took Grandma to visit yesterday. Grandpa is failing day by day. He lives in his own impenetrable world, wolfing down nursing home fare, ignoring his tablemates.

But Grandma's voice brought a ghost of that famous twinkle to his eyes. She touched his arm and he turned to wrap her in a hug and plant a kiss square on her lips. He must have kissed her half a dozen times during our hour-long visit. Sitting knee-to-knee in the dayroom--Grandma on a vinyl loveseat, Grandpa in his wheelchair--he looked her in the eye. "Are you married?"

Grandma's self-conscious chuckle made her sound like a schoolgirl. "I 'thought' I was."

"Well, you sure are good-looking," Grandpa declared.

Grandma threw us a sidewise wink before turning back to Grandpa. "I'm married to 'you,'" she said.

Grandpa pumped a frail fist in the air. "Thank you, Lord!"

Ever notice how much it hurts to laugh and cry at the same time.

Grandpa will be 98 at Thanksgiving and on New Year's Day Grandma turns 97. Grandma sleeps alone now in their double bed layered with quilts. But mere miles could never truly split them up. And if Grandpa makes it through the winter, there will be a big celebration come May 26. Ken's mom will drive out to the farm to pick up Grandma and bring her to the nursing home. Somebody will order a cake and we'll have to tell the bakery at least twice, "No, that's not a typo. The cake should read:
"Happy 79th anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa. We love you."

Deborah Raney
Not only does the column start my day out right with a good story, but I have discovered some great books to read. Every day for a week, excerpts from the same book are included in the e-mail. In 5 minutes a day for 5 days, I can read the first several chapters of a book I might not have picked off the shelf. Give it a try at I hope you get as much pleasure out of them as I do.

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