In honor of February being the month of love, we wanted to do a post on relationships, particularly marriage + friendship. But this post isn’t going to be your typical marriage and friendship advice kind of post. Instead, we enlisted two women we love and admire: our grandmothers: Amanda’s Nana and my Mammaw. They’re both in their 70’s and we admire them in sooo many ways. We’ve looked up to them our whole lives, and we admire their marriages, their strength, and the way they carry themselves as women. And now we consider them friends.
Let me tell you a little about them… First up, Amanda’s Nana and Grandad: Gloria and Mike. They started dating when they were 16. They married young, did well for themselves earlier on and were then separated for a few years during the war. Gloria had Amanda’s mother while Mike was overseas. Amanda said that her Nana is a fiercely-loyal woman, and contributes their success during their time apart because of this. When Mike returned, life resumed as normal. They both worked and attended school at night while raising Amanda’s mom. Mike moved up in a local company, becoming the head accountant and Gloria was a successful teacher.
When Amanda asked them their secrets to this long life of love, the first one on their list was: loyalty.
“Understanding marriage is not always a love story… Life gives and takes from you. As a married couple, knowing you have loyalty from your partner gives you solid ground to stand on in uncertain times. Our trust and commitment to one another was not determined by our circumstances,” shared Gloria.
She continued, “Show your spouse a little grace during times that you’re surviving on your commitment and loyalty alone. Love comes in waves…”
Mike jumped in and said, “I would say our friendship was important to our success. We both have similar interests and enjoy experiencing life together. Get out and live life together!,” he added, “Watching you kids today, I don’t see many of you out there getting into things. I see you on your phone and computer looking at a lot of places or watching other people’s experiences. You don’t need a partner to do that. If you have a partner, live a life that engages one another. If you don’t have a partner, well… maybe you need to get off your gadgets.” ; )
Gloria countered his comment with, “Encourage one another to enjoy things outside of the relationship. We have always been supportive of one another having a life outside of each other. Good friendships come in handy when your marriage needs support, an illness strikes, or you have something to celebrate. Don’t cut off your friendships and passions just because you’re married.”
And speaking of friends, the inspiration behind this post came to me a few weeks ago after I attended a viewing with my Mammaw. Her BFF’s (Anna Marie) husband passed away and seeing how they interacted got me thinking about their 45 year long friendship. I never truly stopped to think about what they had been through together until recently. So a few days later, I asked my Mammaw about how they came to be friends + how they stayed friends all these years.
They met in 1971 when a mutual friend suggested that my Mammaw start babysitting Anna Marie’s two girls. And so she did just that. Her girls became fast friends with my mom and her brother and shortly after, Anna Marie and her family moved a couple streets up from my Mammaw and Pappaw. They’ve lived within walking distance of one another for 45 years and they STILL log more hours per week on the phone than any two people I’ve ever met. They’ve been through a LOT together; the one constant in both of their lives has always been each other. They’ve lost children and grandchildren, fought for their marriages and what they believed in, dealt with their own health issues, and now, they’ve both lost the great loves of their lives. Forty-five years. And they seem to have mastered the ever-elusive balancing act of loving themselves + others well, simultaneously.
Here’s how my Mammaw says they did it:
Are you ready for this?…
“I don’t know… we were just always there for each other.” — So simple and honest and real. I also asked her if they ever fought or went through rough patches in their friendship and she quickly replied: “No. Never.” THAT in itself is amazing! I chalk it up to both of them being so easy-going and being true to one another during all seasons of life. They had each other to lean on during the tough times; they knew they could count on the other person. That is so rare these days… to find people who can handle you at your worst and still decide to stay and walk with you through the mess.
We loved interviewing our family for this post. They keep us grounded and remind us what life is all about. We hope your relationships are full of grace, loyalty and adventure!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Go out and love on somebody!