Lessons. Old and New.

While I was gone in Nepal, Adam paid a visit to one of his favorite people in the world, my Grandmom.

There really aren’t words for how sweet their relationship is. My Grandmom fell in love with Adam the first time she met him, a long time ago when we were in our extensive “just friends” stage. Without fail, every time I’d see her she’d ask “How is Adam? Are you dating Adam yet? When are you going to start dating Adam?
Finally, one day while we were doing dishes at her kitchen sink, I asked her what it was about Adam that made her so fixated on the two of us being together.

Her response was so simple. I should have known.

“Well, I guess, he just really reminds me of your grandfather.”

My grandfather died about 10 years ago. There was never a man who loved a woman so much as he loved my grandmother. And never a woman who loved her husband more. He waited steadfastly for her to come around and agree to marry him. For years as a young Navy pilot he sent her letter after letter from overseas telling her how much he loved her and was completely devoted to her. She still has every one.

I’ve often asked my Grandmom why it took her so long to decide. She answers in her spunky, confident little way, “Well, I liked your grandfather. But I liked a lot of boys…and I just wasn’t sure. And he was always far away from me.” But eventually, he wore her down. And she knew that there wasn’t another man in the world for her.

Grandmom saw this same steadfast devotion and pursuit in her granddaughter's "best friend." The guy who knew from the start that he wanted to be with her, and who was willing to wait as long as it took for her to come around and realize that, he too, was the only man in the world for her. Which, like my Grandmom, I eventually did. :)

After his weekend with Grandmom, Adam sent me one of the most truly precious emails I’ve ever received recounting everything he learned from her. It found me on a hot, tired evening in Nepal. The subject line was "Lessons. Old and New." And it was numbered 1-20. I think I read through all 20 about 20 times each. With Adam's permission, of course, I wanted to share some of it:

What I learned, re-learned, or especially felt this weekend. If you're not learning a great many things it's because you're not really listening is what I've found...

1. The Good Lord gave me a Jordan woman. And one fact about these (five) women who I've grown to love and call family: They are perfect for their respective men, and their men couldn't love any odd or even thing any more. Not in this world. All of these (five) men know they have been given a kinship and love so vast, a respect and admiration for this woman who is a flawless creation…Learning more about the man who once, and again, and again, pursued the one he called "Skeets," without haste or a ticking clock on his wrist, without judgment...but with love. Of course this love would time and again shed it's old skin, and become a softer...yet stronger form of the original. Same ingredients, just a few cups more of everything that at the beginning was only a taste.
Elise, to me you are perfection. I do not mean your actions, your words, or faith. But you, as a child of God, the result and the form of God's design for creation, are more complete and beautiful that any abilities I may have can capture. With you and only you am I even capable of experiencing an intimacy that will skim the surface of His perfect love and will for us. Our intimacy with God, it gives ours life.

2. Grandmom, and I quote, has been "hitting the ice cream real hard" as of late. Her lipids were the only thing abnormal in a recent checkup she had with her Doc, and this spike in frozen delicacy consumption is the only culprit she could name. This was among the very first things she told me when I showed up and about lifted her off the ground like a bowling pin. When she makes me laugh, I immediately hear your laugh.

6. Your Granddad is the man your dad respects and holds in the highest regard. He was your dad's earthly example of a man who can do anything in Christ. In your dad's eyes, he did more than everything. Grandmom read me the letter your dad wrote to him after his first year at Duke. As I listened, I imagined your dad, 19 years old at the most, experiencing (whether he knew it or not) a transformation in his life...and masterfully recounting and recording his thoughts of what could possibly lie ahead. There isn't a soul I look to for more imparted wisdom than your dad, and I now understand how your Granddad was as influential a teacher a man could hope to be in becoming the leader only some men aspire for.

7. Finishing off a square foot of Pimento cheese over the course of two days will never again be attempted without my fellow Pimentor...

10. Your Granddad's first piece of furniture he ever made was for the house in San Diego. Grandmom and he were at a store looking at furniture when she found a bedside table she adored. Very simple thing, but beautiful...and also something your Granddad said he'd be able to make for her no sweat. So he grabbed her pocket book to get its dimensions, then went home and after no time flat he'd done it. “There's your table darling.” She of course loved it and they've had it ever since...well that is until she took me upstairs to ask me if we would want/use it. When we were on our way up to the attic I told Grandmom I'd try to see it through your eyes to make sure we would indeed use it. Well it didn't take but a wink to know. It's beautiful and so meaningful, and we of course will use it as it's been accustomed to for so many years.

11. All three of your Granddad's siblings are still alive. Sure would be something to meet any one of them.

14. Boys USED to write love letters. Lost art that one. Grandmom told me about a boy when she was growing up, who was among the many who felt so inclined to send her love letters. But this particular boy requisitioned his uncle to court the twinkle in his eye. To nobody's surprise, this grown and unquestionably noble man did what any respectful adult would, and promptly voiced his support for Becky to become a member of the family.
What can I say? In every Granddaughter there is some of (or a toppling HEAP of) her Grandmother.

15. The word I saw most often in the letters your Granddad would send to your Grandmom were Sweet, Sweetheart, love, miss, Skeets, and more synonyms...

16. Grandmom didn't know your nickname is Sweetness.

17. There could be a separate list on here for the things I learned from your Granddad's letters alone.

18. Grandmom still cries whenever she sees or hears about another carrier coming back to home port in Norfolk after a long deployment. She started to cry after she told me that.

20. Love and its evidence is location-independent...and I'll explain that one more when we get to talk.
Like Grandmom said today, it is easier to leave than it is to be left, but I told her that's so not true if the person leaving thinks for a split second about what the other's feeling. But it was easy to leave with a smile because of all the hours we'd just been able to enjoy, and how they'll never willfully leave my memory. We were each missing people we love unlike any other and would do anything to see.
Rest well...all my love.


  1. I think I'm blushing at all the love shown there across (and between) several generations!

    I have all the love letters that my mom and dad mailed each other, written daily while Dad was in the South Pacific (WWII) and they were separated for 2+ years. They were married but quite discreet... They had a rule that we all knew where in the attic the box of letters was, but we couldn't look at them til my folks were dead, preserving their privacy for them. Oh, how I wish I could ask some questions now, but can't. Not about the love stuff -- that was obvious. But -- did they really have turkeys that didn't have sense and looked up at the rain and drowned? Really?

    How very fortunate and blessed that you still have your grandmother, and Adam, and that he connected with her. Quick: print out his emails and file them in a box with a satin ribbon around them! For your granddaughters to read and glow over, dreamily...

    And welcome back by the way.


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