When you’re busy trying to find yourself, how should you know what to look for in love? How do you know what qualities are valuable in a relationship when you’re still discovering what is valuable to you? Certainly, many young women have pondered these same questions. Some of us have found the answers through counsel, others through experience, and even some through regret, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re all searching. Within this search, I find it most helpful to look to older women, those women who have fallen in love, walked in relationships and journeyed through life as individuals and companions. One such woman in my life is my Grandmother, or granny, as I lovingly call her. Granny is and always has been a spitfire, the young-at-heart type that will sass anyone that challenges her. She has learned a lot in her years and I have benefitted immensely from her knowledge. In one of our most recent conversations, I was chatting with granny about the quest for answers concerning all things love and found her responses most heartening and intriguing.
First, it is important to note that granny has been fiercely in love with her husband since they met and continues to love him to this day, ten years after his passing. Almost every time I see her I ask her to tell me the story of when she met my grandpa. All I have to do is mention his name and her eyes instantly warm. Then, without an ounce of hesitation, she peels back the pages and starts at the very beginning. This is most surely her very favorite story.
“Your grandpa and I met on a blind date. He had come down to Florida with his best friend who was dating one of my girlfriends at the time. She and I worked in the same office and one day she asked me to go on a double date with her, her boyfriend and his friend (grandpa). I refused because I had no interest in going out with someone I didn’t know but, after asking around and not finding any takers, she begged me to come. I finally agreed to go but made it clear it was only for one date. So, I went and he was the kindest young man I’d ever met. We got acquainted and when he went home he started writing me letters and I wrote back. He lived in Nebraska so I seldom saw him but he was always calling and writing. He visited a few more times in the next year and a half and then, during one of his visits, asked me to marry him.”
I love this story because, to me, it is real. It chronicles a young woman working at an office and pondering questions of life and love. To discover these answers, according to granny, “You have to be yourself and not what others expect of you. You have to know yourself, your negative traits and what makes up your fabric. That’s where it starts.” Thus, a quest for love must begin with a deep acquaintance with the inner self. It is this connection that forms our foundation, a foundation that leads us to seek those qualities that are valuable in someone we might love.
For the sake of honesty, granny’s first response when I asked what made her fall in love with my grandpa was that he was handsome, clean-cut and, “oh, what a dancer… that man could dance”. Once we had a laugh about this, she went on to cite the more lasting attributes that define a man as an individual, a friend and a great love.
“I think it’s extremely important for a man to demonstrate a true faith by being willing to submit to a higher authority. Look for honesty in all aspects of a man’s life because you deserve someone who will be truthful with you. He also ought to be steady, steady in his work, his commitments, his temper and his pursuit and care of you. I think it’s so important for a man to have the ability to laugh about life and make you laugh throughout the ups and downs. And really, at the end of the day, rich or poor makes no difference because our lives can change in an instant and our faith is what will carry us through.”
Upon saying this, granny paused, as if to signify importance, and pointed out that such qualities should not be used as a checklist or measuring tool. Rather, they are to be discovered and tested by spending cherished time with someone and learning about them as we continue to learn about ourselves. Granny viewed her marriage as an adventure in knowing a man she loved dearly and it is this view that causes her to think about him even now. Perhaps, as we venture, our questions may never be fully answered. However, granny and I would agree that as humans we are meant to know and be known, both within ourselves and by those great dancers we may meet along the way.