A Love that is Golden
Happy Golden Wedding Anniversary to two of the most giving and caring human beings in my life:
My Nana and Grandad.
Between you, you have helped shape me and helped keep my head above water when the tides have been high.
There aren't words that can do you justice, but I'm going to try anyway.
Sometimes in life, people say things that stick with you forever. A lot of the time, the things that resonate with us are bad; little snippets of cruelty that stay with us and build our walls and amplify our insecurities. But never from you.
I remember a time when it was just you and I, sat in your car, driving through North Wales and listening to an audiobook about a man being eaten alive by crabs (I still have no idea what that was). About 10 minutes from our destination, we started talking about my struggles with anxiety and you asked me "What is it that you're afraid of?"
"Dying, Grandad." I replied.
Quick as anything you came back with. "But why, Anneli? You won't know about it." I think you must have thought I was afraid of the pain or suffering that I'd experience in my last moments.
"That's exactly what I'm afraid of, not knowing. I'm so afraid of not existing." My chest felt tight and I could feel myself struggling, even at the notion.
You didn't say anything for the moment. We sat in silence, while you hummed along to the theme song of the weird crab book, and I was convinced that you had forgotten what I had said, or that you didn't understand me - after all, not many people did. And then, as we turned the corner and started to slow, you said one of the most magical things I've ever heard in my life.
"I used to feel like that, when I was younger."
I'm convinced my heart stopped for a moment. A silent love reverberated between us. I took a deep breath and asked you what changed and you said:
"It all changed when I had your dad. The minute that I had him I realised that whatever happened to me, a part of me would always carry on in him. And now in you"
Even now, sitting in a Sheffield bakery, I cry when I think about what you said. I don't think anyone has ever said anything that has filled me with more comfort and hope. I don't know if I'll ever have children and I don't know if having them would make me feel the way it did you. What I do know is that when you said that to me, it gave me hope that one day I might. One day I might.
Stephen Hawking once said that the quietest people had the loudest minds. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like that.
You are one of the quietest people I've ever met, so humble and unassuming and so full of love. The hope you gave me that day made me feel as though I could conquer my illness, it still does.
I still have no idea how deliberate what you said was. I don't see how you would have known how much of an impact it would have on my life, but it is the single most powerful thing anyone has ever said to me. Ever.
Whenever I feel a sense of dread and existential crisis coming on, I go back to that moment and I think of your words. Thank you.
If I didn't know you, I would say that there isn't a person on this planet whose love could match up to Grandad's, but somehow you managed it.
You are one of the most stubborn, kind and vocal women I have ever met. Take that as the compliment it is meant to be, I am completely in awe of you.
You are the woman who taught me to be a woman. To pay my way. To carry my own bags. To open my own jars (run them under hot water, Bob's your aunt!) and that it's totally OK if I want to say "Hello" to a passing pigeon. I couldn't ask for a stronger role model.
When my Mum passed away, I thought I was going to be short of a female figurehead to guide me, but I couldn't have been more wrong.
I'm pretty sure I get my weird from you, I know it's where I get my determination from. You were my first glance of feminism, you have shown me that my gender shouldn't ever be what holds me back and that success IS whatever I think it looks like, and whatever I want it to be.
Thank you so much for the love you have shown me, but mostly for the love you have shown each other over the 50 years you've been married.
As a single woman in 2018, I'm told time and time again how difficult it is to find a good relationship, and heaven knows my life has given me a pretty good insight to what a bad one looks like. I'm forever told in magazines and movies that it's almost impossible to find a proper relationship, one that isn't disposable.
And I know that you have had tough times, bereavements and health issues that has shaken you both, but your relationship is an example to anyone who has seen it. You are just two people who live and love together. Two people who love and support each other through thick and thin. Two people who are a pillar of strength and dependability to their family.
Thank you both, for being good people and for raising three more good people, and bringing them into the world. Your children (well, your adults) are an absolute reflection of the love and happiness that surrounds you both.
You bring me so much joy and you give me so much love, and I hope you know that the world is a better place because you found each other.