On the night they met, my Grandmother told my Grandfather that he was crazy.

I’m pretty sure she told him that many more times over the course of their life together, but that night was the first – at least that’s how I remember the story.

My Grandparents were practically babies when they met – 14 and 15, I believe. They met on a snowy New Year’s Eve in an alley downtown in a year when it was still safe to walk down an alley downtown after dark. A different time… She and her friends were supposed to meet up with some boys they knew at a New Year’s Eve gathering, but either someone didn’t show or the plans changed so the girls left. He was walking around town with his friends, “looking to find some gals” when the two groups crossed paths in that alley.

My favorite version of their story is the one he told so many times…

“I thought she was really pretty so I asked her if she wanted to walk around a little. She said yes. So we walked around in the snow a little, then we smooched a little, then we walked a little more. When I dropped her off at her house, we smooched a little more right there on the front step. I told her I was going to marry her and she told me I was crazy.”

Whenever one of us would ask what happened next, he would always say, “I married her. And I was crazy. Crazy about her and I still am.”

He really was crazy about her from that moment until the day they married, right after she graduated from high school. The wedding was planned in about a week because they were in a bit of a hurry.  It was 1944 – war time – and he was being shipped out soon.

The first three years of their marriage were spent apart. It’s a scenario I still find hard to imagine…seventeen, a new bride, left behind to wait and pray for the husband fighting overseas. When he returned home to stay, they were finally able to begin their life and their family.

They were married for 64 years, all of them lived together in her childhood home. We all grew up there – five children, and later ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. That was the home where we knew holidays and Sunday dinners and long swims in the pool.

He was still crazy about her through all of their years together and they had a standing date each New Year’s Eve. How they spent their evening varied…sometimes a dinner date or a dance, sometimes a quiet evening at home. One year they spent the evening at a hospital welcoming their first child into the world and another they spent watching fireworks from a hospital window while she was there for physical therapy after surgery. But no matter what they did, they always spent New Year’s Eve together.

He died a mere ten months after she did, but I think most of us know that a part of him really died the moment she took her last breath. He was buried on a snowy New Year’s Eve afternoon in the cemetery across the street from their home where he kissed her goodnight all those years ago. It was perfect, really. I like to think he knew he had a standing date that night with his girl and he had no intention of not keeping it. I imagine them, in the snow, walking a little and smooching a little just as they did that first night and still just as crazy in love.

Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

24 thoughts on “A Standing Date

  1. Thank you for sharing this touching story. Your “crazy” grandpa and grandma were able to make it work despite such adversity early on. While I know it must have been tough to lose him so soon after your grandma’s passing, I’m glad you see the romance in his keeping his date with her on New Year’s Eve.

    1. I think lots of people made it work in the face of adversity then. It was a different time, a different world. People were not the same as they are today at that young age. To me, they were the epitome of true romance always. They had struggles and harships like anyone else, but they always always always faced them hand in hand. Awesome. Makes the good times sweeter, I think.

  2. You re-create the scene so touchingly, Lisa. Tears blur my keyboard as I type this, an amazing story. So ‘of its time’ too.
    (Need to get a tissue…)

  3. I have one of these limited edition sets of magic grandparents. They both just celebrated birthday number 87. The best love stories always start with at least one person being crazy.

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