Earlier this year my grandpa turned 88 years young. For most of my young life my grandpa and I did not have much of a relationship outside of yearly family gatherings. When my grandma died over a decade ago things started to change. My grandpa was forced to reach out to his family and other supports in his life, not only to learn how to do laundry and cook pot roast but also because he was lonely for companionship. Over the years my grandpa and I have grown close with frequent phone conversations about things like football bets. His friends always used to gamble on the football when they were younger, but now he has to have online betting on sports explained to him because he doesn’t understand how it’s done online! Maybe he’ll get back in to it for some extra cash when he understands it. Years ago when my grandpa got his first computer he sent me an e-mail and the entire content of it was in the subject line. Some time in his 80s my grandpa got a Match.com membership and called to ask me how to add a profile picture.
I recently flew to visit my grandpa over a long weekend and I spent several days hearing stories about the Army, off track betting at horse races and what Yellowstone used to look like. Among one of the many pearls of wisdom that my gramps had to offer that weekend was a poignant and truthful perspective on love. My grandpa and grandma did not have the happiest of marriages. They tolerated and even sometimes liked each other, sure, but it was not a union of true love. It is too late for my grandpa now but I think one of his biggest regrets is not having the love that he really wanted in his life.
My grandpa told me that life is like a war, a battlefield where the gunfire never ceases. My grandpa says we spend all day fighting to get our way, to do our part. My grandpa says that because life is always so hard it is important to find a partner that makes our lives easier, someone who makes coming home feel like a relief from the relenting daily combat. My grandpa says that the one we choose to love and share our lives with should not be our foe, should not be someone we run or hide from. My grandpa says that we do not always have choices in war but we always, always have a choice in love. My grandpa says to choose who we love wisely because no one wants to sleep with the enemy.
Even though my grandpa does not know how to send an email, I think my grandpa is a very, very wise man. My grandpa knows best.