Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Leland and Clemmie

They've been together for almost 70 years. High School sweethearts- him shy and studious, she outgoing and playful. "I thought he was the cutest thing I'd ever seen!" was the answer she gave of the first time she saw him. She had to ask a teacher to borrow a classroom so he'd have a chance to ask her out because he was too shy to do it anywhere else. He, the high school quarterback and 4-H champion, she, the social butterfly who could care less about school. Marriage (he had to get parental permission to marry her because they weren't old enough), pregnancy, and then drafted for War. She had her dad drive her down to say goodbye. He snuck out to have one last night with his girl. Boot camp then the Philippines. She and their baby boy lived in a one room tank house on her parent's property. A year and a half later, he came home and met his son, my dad. He bought land, and they began to settle down. Grapes was what he grew. Raisins is how he earned a living. More babies came; another son, a daughter, and a daughter. Tragedy struck- a trash fire and a twirling can. One daughter and sister who will never be forgotten. One year later to the day, a gift of another son. The family is complete. Farming and child-rearing is how they spent their days. Church, family gatherings, and trips to the coast and the cabin became great memories. Being together was prioritized. So was working hard. So was loving other people. So was loving Jesus.

The kids grew and made lives for themselves. One became a teacher and a missionary. One a pharmacist and farmer. One a coach and lover of life. And one a farmer and family historian. All loved Jesus passionately. The two became grandparents, and they were loved dearly by their grandchildren. 7 they had total, 3 boys and 4 girls. Summers swimming, grand occasions celebrated, family meals cherished, and fun always had by all. They could always be counted on to love you! Tragedy struck again- this time with cancer. It was a long battle with many ups and downs, but daughter number 2 taught all of us the meaning of living life to the fullest, and in the end, dying with the dignity and beauty that fully encompassed her. Drawn together again, they grieved and celebrated a life with those still living. There were hard days, but together they saw them through. Imagining how parents bury two of their children is beyond my comprehension, and yet, they did, and are more refined because of it. Very slowly, age began to creep in. Her knees, his eyes. Her mind, his tolerance. But still they lived and loved. Traveling to visit family, hosting friends, playing games - dice was their favorite, taking moments with their children and grandchildren to show their love. She, always ready with a joke, funny saying, or a hug. He, always willing to listen, wrestle, or teach. Both, uniquely different, yet I can't imagine one without the other. 65 years they've been married. They are the embodiment of how God designed marriage, as they've truly become one.