I have a photograph of my grandparents hanging in our dining room that I often look at and admire.
My grandfather, Fred Baumann, is holding a bouquet of flowers in each of his hands and extending them to my grandmother, Francis. Taken in the late 1950s or early ’60s, it’s black and white, so you have to study it and imagine the colors.
I came into possession of the picture while my father was dying seven years ago, and my husband Tim and I were tasked with cleaning out his house and getting it ready to sell. The picture was in my father’s basement office, a place I rarely visited.
My grandfather died before I was born, and so I never met him. His personality is a product of my own imagination. I do remember Francis as a gracious, open woman, always welcoming of my mother and me, even after my parents divorced.
In the picture, Francis is looking up at Fred, who I assume had cut the flowers in their garden to bring to her, and he is looking down at her almost dotingly. They look like they are both in their 60s and have that comfortable way of being with each other after many years of marriage and raising children together.
Over this Valentine’s Day weekend, I looked at the picture often and realized that it epitomizes a love that evolves after many years together, after many celebrations of birthdays and personal victories, and mourning of hardships, like the death of their son, Bud, in World War II.
If couples are fortunate, they grow to resemble my grandparents in the picture, with a love that endures. It can be achieved only through compromise, acceptance and the courage to enter each new chapter of life together.
A bouquet or two of flowers once in a while helps, as well.