The night Anna accepted Herman’s marriage proposal they stood in a Kansas farm field holding hands and prayed together. Their love story lasted more than 50 years and the reason I know is because I’m one of their grandsons.
When I was nineteen years old I decided to drive from Lincoln, Illinois to San Diego on my first paid vacation. I had been working in a soap and cosmetics factory for a little over a year and received one week of paid vacation plus another week of unpaid time off while the factory was closed. On my way to California I stopped in Watonga, Oklahoma to visit my grandparents. I arrived late at night and pitched a pup tent at a state park near my grandparents’ home. Unfortunately, in the dark I pitched my little tent directly upon an ant hill. And it was the red ant kind that didn’t take kindly to my intrusion. The stinging bites woke me early the next morning and I quickly shook out my clothes and dressed, then shook out my sleeping bag and pup tent and drove into town.
It was a fun visit, to have Grandpa and Grandma all to myself. And as Grandpa and I sat in the living room Grandma walked by, just a little too close to Grandpa. He reached out and grabbed her and pulled her down on his lap and gave her a big kiss on the lips.
Grandma seemed a little startled and as she patted her hair she kept in a bun back into place. She straightened her apron as she looked at me sheepishly and said, “Herman! You’ll embarrass Paul!” But she stayed on his lap and her eyes twinkled.
“Naw,” Grandpa replied. “Paul knows we’re in love!” And that’s how they were, affectionate and playful and in love.
My mother, their daughter told me she was often embarrassed by her parents, especially as a teenager when her friends would point them out as they strolled around hand in hand, giggling and talking together; in public!
And they took care of each other and looked out for each other. When first married Grandma would make chicken for supper and she always made sure Grandpa got the white meat. And Grandpa would be careful to make sure he left the dark meat for Grandma. For twenty years they did this, mind you. You see, because Grandma’s favorite was white meat she presumed it was Grandpa’s favorite. And his favorite was dark meat so he presumed it was Grandma’s favorite. For twenty years they both sacrificed what they loved for the other until they finally realized that they had presumed backwards and from then on they got their favorite and loved each other all the more for sacrificing all those years.
In 1978 Grandpa passed away at the age of 75 from heart disease which brought to an end their 50 years of marriage. Grandma quietly and privately mourned her beloved husband for eighteen years until she passed away at the age of 91. They left a loving legacy and an enduring love story that echoes Biblical instruction:
Phillipians 2.4 ..look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own…
John 13.34-35 …love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
Galations 5.13…let love make you serve one another.
Ephesians 5.33…every husband must love his wife as himself, and every wife must respect her husband.
Romans 15.7 Accept one another, then, for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you.
1 Peter 4.8 Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins.
(Good News Translation)