Apr 11, 2014

From Cliche to Authentic

Not too long ago, I sat with my sister in law, letting her peruse through our family’s old photo albums, explaining to her who everyone was. We laughed at my larger than life forehead as a baby (seriously, add an arc to the Coneheads…you get the picture), at how some of my sisters look the same from 1-31, and she got some quality exposure to what 80’s and 90’s hair really looked like.

But then we turned to the page that held a photo of my grandparents on their 50th wedding anniversary. Grandma and Grandpa have been gone for over a decade, and had a longer than we would have liked decline before that. On that night, looking at the two of them when they were still healthy, Grandpa wearing his grey suit, Grandpa in her bright red lipstick, a knot started in my stomach, crept up through my throat and tried to emerge from my eyes.

Grandma and Grandpa, still side by side.
Grandma died first, and forever sealed in my memory is the image of Grandpa, being supported by his children as he leaned over to his wife, lips trembling, and gave her the last kiss. And then he sobbed.

For a long time I was in denial that I liked romantic stories. I get really tired of the formula – boy meets girl, they are attracted to each other, there’s some sheet time, real life makes them break up, they realize life was better with the other, reunite, confess love, marry. Usually within two weeks. Three if they were more mature.

But I love romance – the true soul penetrating, self-exploration that takes place when another life is added. I love seeing characters slowly lower their tough kick-A attitude and become a person again, susceptible to disappointment and questions and wondering.  I love that way that love – true love – can change people, help them refocus, make them long to be a better person. And I love when this is so deep that weight gain and balding and stressful days at work and recognizing there is no way possible for love to always come first continues to deepen the quality of the relationship.

For me, time is the difference between something that is romantic and something that has romance. Time is what makes someone long to be supported by his three grown sons so that he can give his newly departed wife one last kiss. Time is what makes the couple look beyond the wrinkles and grey hair and sagging middles, allowing them to only see the quality of person they are in love with, noting not the physical changes, but the sanctity of emotion. Times allows the love to move beyond the cliché and into the authentic.


Susanna Leonard Hill said...

What a lovely, poignant story, Tasha. Your grandparents sound like special people. And I totally agree with you about the qualities of love. It changes when you've been with someone for getting on to 30 years. It's not always easy. But it grows and deepens, and even though it's different at 50 than 20, I think it's better :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Oh, my heck, Tasha. You made me cry with that. *sniff*


Kaylee Baldwin said...

Thank you for sharing! My grandma just died and this brings back a lot of emotions from the funeral. I LOVE romance--reading it and writing it--and I think that there are "lust" stories and then there are "love stories." The love ones are my favorite for the very reason you have here.

wayne said...

Wow! Making me cry! Love you, Tash!

Deana said...

That was so beautiful, Tasha! You're Grandparents sound like people who would have been great to know:)

Juliana L. Brandt said...

Oh Tasha, this was just beautiful. That last paragraph had me holding my breath. So true.

Emily R. King said...

What a beautiful post. I can feel the love!