A Lesson from My Grandfather

He took her hands and gently danced around the living room. Smiling – he held her close and smelled a hint of carrot cake in her hair. Thirty-eight years of marriage, and he treated her like they were newlyweds on their honeymoon. That was the way he treated her. Every day he found new ways to prove his love to his bride. 

My ten-year-old mind was not able to fathom that type of love. I never experienced how a man should treat a woman until I observed my grandfather’s love for my grandmother. His love for her was more substantial than a tsunami, taller than Mount Everest, and deeper than the Mariana Trench. It was the most accurate form of love between a husband and wife.

“Papaw, do you love Mammaw that much?” 

“Son, you have no idea how much she means to me,” Papaw said as he gazed at my grandmother with his deep blue eyes. His chest seemed to rise and fall faster by the second. “Every time I look at her, it’s like I’m seeing her for the very first time.” 

Love like this was elusive at my home. Sure, my dad loved my mother, but he did not show his love the way Papaw demonstrated. As a ten-year-old, my first eight years of life were full of violence. I watched my dad as he pummeled my mother’s face. I didn’t know love. 

“How do you know you love her so much,” I asked as my mind swirled with doubt. 

“Come here,” my grandfather said as he pointed to the couch. “Sit down. Let me tell you something.” 

I scurried to the couch and jumped on its plush cushions. My eyes gleamed, and my cheeks tensed from the huge smile that spread across my goofy face. My grandfather was about to tell me a story – or so I thought it was a story. 

He patted my knee and smiled. “Son, one thing you should always understand is your love for one woman is supposed to be forever.” 

My grandparents circa 2006

I shrugged and said, “What do you mean?” 

“When you finally settle on a woman, and ya’ll decide to make a go at marriage, make sure she’s your one and only.” 

I didn’t truly understand him. My small decade on this planet was full of G.I. Joes, Hot Wheels, and Thunder Cats – I couldn’t care less about girls! I mean, a girl would turn her nose into the air at my mud-caked fingernails and feet that smelt like rotten onions. I was ten—girls bored me. My sister was all I could handle, and I didn’t want any more in my life.

I’m not lucky enough to be a one-marriage man. However, I am blessed enough to have married the woman of my dreams. My dream girl developed when I watched The Karate Kid Part II. Daniel LaRusso fell in love with Kumiko – I fell in love with Kumiko. I used to pretend I was Daniel-San as he danced with his Asian girlfriend in the candlelight. I wanted an Asian girlfriend from that point forward. 

I never pursued my dream girl – I settled. I did love my ex, but true love never developed. Multiple military deployments built a canyon, and love never perfected the Evel Knievel jump. Instead, love crashed into a dusty heap of trash and left massive holes in my heart. 

I swore marriage away. I didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. It hurt. However, love found me again. I discovered my Kumiko. I became Daniel LaRusso from The Karate Kid Part II. There she was, standing in the hallway of the Army academy I was an instructor at. Her black hair shined under the fluorescent lights. Her tanned skin and dark eyes beckoned to me. They reminded me of a summer’s thunderstorm. Lightning shot through my heart – I was instantly in love. 

Michelle isn’t Japanese. She is from Malaysia, but she is my Kumiko. I feel faint every time our eyes meet. Her smell reminds me of the sweet ocean breeze, and her touch erupts my heart’s volcano. 

My grandfather’s words pierce my ears like a knife. “Son, love her like she’s the last woman on earth.” 

She is the only woman in this galaxy who holds my attention. Michelle completes me. I will dance with her until my dying day, just like Papaw loved my grandmother until his last breath gently passed over his lips.  

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