What a life. What a marriage. What a family. Mardette and Al celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary last month and to celebrate with them, we went to visit. So, the Williams family (minus Katie, plus Gerard) and two dogs trekked to Cincinnati to surprise the couple for a slew of busy-ness they couldn't possibly expect.

Grandpa Al is now 92 and Grandma Mardette is 87, both need assistance moving around and doing daily activities 24/7. Aunt Laurie was there already and Aunt Kathy was transitioning to take her shift so it was a sisterly reunion as well! In our efforts to work on the personalized family calender, we realized we needed to take some pictures. So, among the wall painting in the master bedroom, going for wheeled "walks" with Ella, felling two trees, doing Grandma's nails and physical therapy exercises, and a meeting of the minds, we probably tuckered them out entirely!

Two years ago, Grandma was victim to a Belles Palsy occurrence that affected her left side greatly. Her cheek muscles on the left side of her face sagged and she was affected by vertigo if she turned while walking. Apparently, Grandpa thought it was all his fault and had been asking for Grandma's forgiveness since the incident. Mom informed Grandma that he had been doing this for awhile and asked her what she thought. Grandma had had no clue what he'd been asking of her! (With his dementia, it's very difficult to understand him.) So, right then and there, we got them out on the deck in their wheelchairs and Grandma spoke with him, explaining that bad health just happens sometimes. That it's nobody's fault. She finally had to stand up out of her wheelchair to get closer to him to let him know she really did forgive him. A hug and a kiss and an, "Is all right with the world?" later, Grandpa had a moment of dementia free understanding and said, "Yes".

Though their hands are covered in age spots and wrinkles, Grandpa's hands swollen from arthritis, the thing I remember most about them growing up is that they would hold hands while they went on walks with us, or were in the mall or any other public event. They held hands. I always thought to myself, "When I grow up I will only date someone who likes to hold my hand. And we're going to hold hands all the time." Even in my first high school relationships, when the hand holding stopped, I knew the break-up was coming shortly thereafter. With Gerard, hand holding is a huge sign to him of forgiveness and reconciliation-that all is right in the world between us. It's amazing what God made our hands for-work, comfort, reconciliation. To make everything right with the world.

In the Bible Study I'm doing this summer, we're learning about the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25) Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Investigating patience, we learned it can actually be a form of forgiveness-waiting for the person to change and overlooking offenses in the process of that change. . . I asked Grandma what it takes to make it to 65 years of marriage and she said, "Patience". Asked again by my Aunt Laurie over lunch she said, "There's one word. . .Let me think of it. . ." and I asked her, "Patience Grandma?" "Yes, that's it."

This one may be the July anniversary page on next year's calender:)

Mom is reiterating the mantra, "Chest up, chin up ladies!"

By the time we got to the larger family portrait, Grandpa was so tired, he couldn't keep his eyes open!

Mardette had a Belles Palsy-like episode almost 2 years ago and now her cheeks are finally looking as close to normal as we've seen. She looked great! Especially with a manicure, curled hair and clean bling! (We put lotion on her hands often and it's tedious and sometimes painful to get her two rings off, so lotion had built up and clouded the brightness of her beautiful jewelry.) Great Grandma Mardette with great grand-baby/puppy Ella. She wants my mom to bring Ella with her every time now! They definately hit it off:)

Though when one of the three sisters is in Cincy with a nursing aide, they can move Grandpa in the Hoyer Lift, but when you have two beefy guys like Gerard and my dad, it never hurts to make the job a little easier. Auntie Laurie dubbed it the "Blue Cacoon" and we told Grandpa that he got to be like Peter Pan and fly from his bed to chair:)

"Grandpa" Joe playing with Ella.

Greeting Grandpa "good morning". Lots of kisses here after they had made up the day before. SO cute!

Cincinnati weather was beautiful while we were there and we had to take advantage and get Grandma and pa out for fresh air!
Ella liked the taste of Grandpa's hands-she always licked them!

While emotionally and physically draining, I'm always thankful that we get to see Grandma and pa. Gerard commented even last night that he's learned a lot from them about marriage and about family taking care of family in the 6 times we've visited since our wedding. Mardette and Al are an example even at this stage of their life and worthy to be praised. Congratulations on 65 years of patience!!