When Art and I were first married, we struggled a lot. We both brought in loads of unrealistic expectations into our marriage and instead of our first years being blissfully romantic, they were spent sifting through layer after layer of hurt, disappointment, anger, and grief.
For years my marriage felt more like a life sentence than a blessed partnership.
It was tough, really tough.
But one sticky, hot, Mississippi afternoon while at a family reunion, I caught a glimpse of something I’ve never forgotten. Peaking out a window with cracked green paint peeling from the sill, I watched as Mamaw pulled a rusty yard chair over to sit by Papaw.
Like a piece of a puzzle settling into place, Mamaw fit just right by her man. No conversation ensued, no catching up was necessary, just a look and a nod and everything was understood. It was their waltz of doing life together that had been perfected over time.
And it made me cry.
Tears slipped from my eyes and dripped down my cheeks splattering onto an old linoleum floor well worn from years of activity. Years of making his favorite breakfast of biscuits with giblet gravy. Years of running after their babies, grand babies and even great grand babies. Years of pacing the floor trying to chase away the grief of losing two of their six children.
I grabbed my camera and swiped the back of my hand across my cheeks.
“Kiss her Papaw,” I said in a voice too soft for his hearing aid to catch. Mamaw knew he hadn’t heard and so without missing a beat, she leaned over and kissed him instead. My camera clicked. And with that one click a legacy of love was captured.
I loved that moment.
I loved it then and I especially love it now.
It has been years ago that Mamaw laid Papaw into the arms of Jesus and kissed his cheek for the last time on this side of eternity. But last fall Mamaw joined Papaw.
I picture her seeing him again. Seeing him whole and healthy and able to hear her slightest whisper. And I love that thought. I also love the thought of Art and I one day sitting in old yard chairs able to speak volumes with just a glance and a nod. Still stealing kisses between the activity of all our kids.
And still thinking of the words Papaw once wrote to us in a letter I’ve read hundreds of times. “Life is more than just the living of it. Now, you two discover it together.”
And by the grace of God we are too. We really are.
The greatest of legacies aren’t necessarily built around the big moments of life marked with anniversary dates and wise words spoken to the crowds. They are built around peeling window sills, rusty yard chairs, and secret kisses when you thought no one else was looking.
But they were.