A Love Story: When 62 Years Turns Into Forever
The year was 1950 when they said “I do” in a little white, steepled church in the countryside of rural North Carolina.
He was 24; she was 20.
Bright-eyed and deeply in love, they stood together at the altar with their hands intertwined, both beaming with happiness, as they knew this shared moment was just the beginning.
Their love story was just getting started.
Although I was not physically present on this sweet summer afternoon in June, tingles race up my spine whenever I think about it. Emotion ripples through my veins, and usually, a few tears — of joy — start streaming down my face.
See, for me, this isn’t just any ole love story. It’s one that marks the beginning of my family, and one that has taught me — along with so many others — the true meaning of the word ‘love.’ This is the love story of my grandparents, a couple who shared 62 years of life together.
While I have been blessed to be surrounded by incredibly strong, loving relationships throughout my twenty-seven years of age, it is the everlasting love of these two individuals that inspires me most. Infused with kindness, sacrifice, and respect, it is the strength of their partnership that I strive to follow daily.
When they decided to commit their lives to each other almost seven decades ago, they didn’t have much. They didn’t know what was next. All they knew was that they wanted to be together; that they needed to be together. Having returned from serving in the United States Navy during World War II, he knew there was no time but the present, and she couldn’t agree more.
So, they took a leap of faith, bought a small house on a small piece of land and worked hard to transform it into a home.
Little did they know then that they would spend the rest of their lives together, welcoming and raising the family they would go on to create, in that humble abode.
I could go on and on sharing with you the stories that have been passed down to me describing all the good times — and the not-so-good times, because who are we kidding, no marriage is perfect — that took place between my grandparents. I could spend the next few lines reminiscing on all the cherished moments I remember personally from my time with them together. The family gatherings. The holiday celebrations. The random drop-in visits. Oh, how the memories quickly create a mile-long list in my mind.
But what fascinates me most about their love story is their unbreakable bond. Nothing could tear them apart, as the moment they said “I do,” the two of them became one. Where there was Cleve, there was Anne, and vice versa. And instead of solely focusing on making one another happy throughout their time together, they chose to strive for a lifetime of wholeness.
Through the ups and the downs, the happiness and the heartaches, they embraced all that life threw at them and remained united, paving their own path, together. Harnessing the messy experiences, the good and bad, the successes and failures, they served as each other’s guiding light. Day after day; year after year; decade after decade, until the end.
Although this past January marked the fifth anniversary since my grandfather passed away, I know his spirit hasn’t drifted far. I can still feel his presence whenever I visit my grandmother. There he is, still there in that home, comforting her each and every day he is not physically able to be by her side.
And despite the fact that her mind is slowly starting to fade as well, her memories of him and their life together remain stronger than ever. Anchored by her four children — and 11 grandchildren — she bravely continues to reflect on their unwavering devotion to show us all the beauty that can come from opening your heart up to another soul.
Because of that, I will always believe in love.
Images provided by Kathryn.
Kathryn McLamb is a writer and photographer on a mission to inspire others to celebrate the everyday. She runs her blog Pineapple Street, and when she’s not plotting her next travel adventure, you can find her wandering the colorful city streets in San Francisco.