All the Difference


“Love at first sight is love; but the real love comes later,” muses my grandma as she begins telling me of her quickly gotten-into marriage.

On a Sunday night, she went on a bowling date with a man named, Louis, whom she met two and half months earlier in November, 1956; with beautiful blue eyes, a love for life and good times, and a friendly demeanor, it took only the one date for her to know she loved him. Talking and praying together for a week after, they decided to get married that next Sunday, January 19, 1957.

Shortly before their wedding day, her fiance asked her, “You do know I’m almost thirty, and you’re only nineteen; do you still want to get married?” to which my grandma replied, “Of course!”

And yet, despite her utter willingness and even excitement, she had hidden fears of their marriage not making it. The possibility of them not getting along well loomed over her soul, and in its shadow was the dark worry of losing him altogether. Bound for the very-near wedding day, she kept faith in the possibility of a forever marriage, and in God’s ability to bring it about.

Being the frugal woman my grandma is, she decided to make her own wedding dress so she could wear it often after the wedding—and so she arrived at the church that day wearing pastel blue. To her (and her fiance’s) surprise, he showed up in the same color suit—pastel blue. What followed was their four day Las Vegas, Nevada honeymoon, which began their life of many travels together.

Over the course of their marriage, the two of them traveled over 100,000 miles through the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Of their travels, my grandma remembers very well the many “high places” to which he took her, in hopes of getting her over her fear of heights: the Seattle Space Needle, the Washington Monument, the Empire State Building, and many more—though her fear never went away.

During and after their many travelling days, they were blessed with children, which ultimately brought joy to my grandma’s heart. One memory she is quite fond of took place just after their first child was born. Her husband would run in and out of the nursery, exclaiming, “Oh, I just need to see him again!” That led, down the road, to many memorable Sunday mornings getting their handful of children ready for church.

As expected, not every minute of their marriage was perfect, or even enjoyable. Faced by the trials of uncovering the true self of her beloved, my grandma often found herself fretting their marriage. As she reflected on this with me, a golden truth fell from her mouth:

“At first, I loved him because of how he looked, his actions. But as I got to know him, it became real love… it was two becoming one… we began to think as one.”

To me, her perspective on first love is very awe-inspiring—how many times have I thought to myself that it’s simply wrong to love someone based on their appearance, or their good aspects? But, thinking on what was said, perhaps it is a person’s wonderful self which draws your own flawed self in, so that you’ll learn how to love another flawed self over time? In my grandma’s words, “Love is accepting a person for who they are, their good and bad qualities. Don’t try to change the other person, because you might not like who they become if you do.”

But how does one accept a person’s bad qualities, the things about them that reek of sin, differences, and inconveniences?

“Commitment makes all the difference,” she tells me, reflecting on the forever marriage she lived, to a man she knew so little. “It was our faith that kept us together… we both believed in God, and we prayed to Him even when we weren’t talking to each other.”

They were married forty years before his death to which my grandma bitter-sweetly adds, “When we got married, we said it was the day our lives had begun. When he died, I felt as though my life had ended. But of course, it didn’t.”

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