When I was twenty I visited my grandmother on my own. My grandmother was widowed twice. The first time she was 29 and had three children under the age of 6. The next time she was 46 and had a 9-year-old at home. During my special visit with her we went shopping. As we walked into the department store she said to me, “today would have been my wedding anniversary.”
I didn’t know what to say. I said I was sorry.
We were going to the store so she could get me a watch. A watch is the gift that her second husband Don, my father’s beloved stepfather thought every girl should have for their high school graduation. I hadn’t seen my grandmother since I had graduated. Had she still been married to my grandfather, we would not be buying a watch. Neither of my aunts would have special watches, nor my sister or cousin. More importantly my Aunt Annie wouldn’t exist.
Still I silently prayed to ease my grandmother’s grief and prayed that I would never experience what she did. How sad it was to be walking into the May Company Department Store in the Parmatown Mall in Ohio and realize that it would have been your forty-eighth anniversary, I thought. How could what was once an extraordinary day now be plain and regular?
Now my wedding anniversary is around the corner. For reasons quite different than my grandmother’s it is a plain and regular day. I made a lifetime commitment on that day 19 years ago. My former spouse did not.
It is so strange to go to work and act as if everything is ordinary, but it isn’t for me. I made a vow that day that I meant. But on the anniversary of that day there are no cards, flowers, dinners, or memories shared. It’s a regular day for me just like it was for Grandma.
However, her husband died, he didn’t choose to leave her. Mine is alive and married to someone else. My wedding anniversary comes around to remind me of mistakes. If I had done this instead of that perhaps things would be different.
While I was married in the Church I don’t think my marriage was an outward sign of God’s grace and love. I longed for that, but you can’t just make that happen. It takes two people inviting God into their marriage.
I will mark my anniversary this year wearing the watch purchased for me by my grandmother on her wedding anniversary. It was something my step grandfather wanted all of the girls in his family to have. His desire for us to have that gift lived on after he died, as did the stories of his kindness and devotion. Although the marriage vows say “Until death do us part” I believe Grandma and Don’s love lasted beyond that. I will let the love from their sacrament buoy me on what is now an ordinary day.