My mother's parents have been together over fifty years. My grandfather is the only man my grandmother ever dated, ever since she was fifteen. Their relationship astounds me. My grandparents are from Cuba, and in the sixties took my mother and uncle to the United States, leaving the only home they had ever known to flee Castro. They had to start a new life in a completely different country, a place that did not speak their language. They could not take all the trappings of their former life with them: it was not allowed. They took jobs different from the ones they had in Cuba, and embarked on a different life. Yet their relationship remained strong, throughout one of the most challenging situations a human being could ever face.
Only one photo exists of their wedding, and it is a treasure in our family. Black and white, slightly faded, it captures the excitement of the day. My beautiful grandmother on my grandfather's arm: young, in love, and awaiting the life to come. Although I am sure their life today is not what they thought it would be in that moment frozen in time, I have never sensed any regret or bitterness from either of them. The one thing Castro couldn't take was their love. Love for their family, each other, for service to others.
To this day, my grandparents still go on date nights. My grandfather takes my grandmother to a lake with countless swans, to sit with her and watch them go by. Their love is what binds our family. When my grandfather told me that Rob and I reminded him of himself and my grandmother, it was the greatest compliment I have ever been given. He believes we have the kind of love that will last a lifetime, and he would know. In my relationship, I have already seen the kind of commitment and strength that bound my grandparents through the tough times. Yet we are young, and we have a long way to go. If we begin to lose our way someday, I will take his hand and emulate the two people whose relationship will always have my utmost respect. With that kind of example, we could never go astray.
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