My husband and I are very fortunate to share our wedding anniversary with my grandparents, Minnie and Charlie Schellberg. On 26 June 2012, they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. The photos above are from the Fayette County Record’s front-page story about 75 years of marriage, in which my Grandpa gives some great advice in the last line.
We lost my Grandma yesterday morning.
I lost my own mother at age 9, and to say that my grandmother was an amazing woman, entirely misses the mark. She was beyond amazing. Four months until her 100th birthday, she had cheated the reaper at his game more than half a dozen times this year alone; damned if she wasn’t going to make it to her 75th anniversary! This is a woman who was kicked out of school for not speaking English but still went, a first-generation German-American who picked cotton - a job she wouldn’t wish on anyone - and sang in a German choir until she was well into her 80s. When Grandma and Grandpa were married, they couldn’t afford rings, but it didn’t matter - they had each other; they traded some sheep and potatoes for the kitchen table they still have; they suffered hardship, but they got by together. And she still had the softest, sweetest, kissable face and a smile for any new friend. They served in the rural country’s fire department for over 50 years; she drove the fire truck, and then came home to cook the family dinner. She was only in her 70s then.
These people are epic is what I’m saying; they were epic on their own, but they are especially epic as a duo. The last 5 years of their life together, my grandma couldn’t hear and my grandpa couldn’t see; they worked as a team to keeping up their home. In her mid 90s, Grandma slipped into dementia, but never once did my grandpa lose his cool. He’d just ask her calmly why she was getting up again. She said to take out some bread for supper. He’d reply that she’s been up a dozen times already, and they don’t need any more bread. She’d reply that she was sorry; she didn’t remember. And he’d just hold her hand and say, ‘I know, Mama, I know.’
I could write about their greatness all day, but I’ll just ask that you read the short article that’s only inaccurate when it comes to my sister and I. And that you share in this epic story of two epic people, who have each lost their lifelong partner. And that you believe that love will always see you through - it still hurts when its gone - if you take my grandpa’s advice. He was at her hospice bedside every minute until the end. Grandma didn’t speak one word from the day after their anniversary, but this afternoon tears still rolled from Grandpa’s face as he now faces the world alone at 95. Its truly the most inspiring and tragic love story, and a story about life - no fluff - straight up life. Its hard and tough, but you make it through - if you’re lucky with the love of a good partner. When the end comes you know you were lucky to love and be loved as they did.
My husband and I will be in Texas all next week celebrating her memory and trying our best to comfort my grandpa, although we can only imagine how he feels after more than 75 years with her to now be alone.