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True Love

Grandma & Grandpa Crader + Grandma & Grandpa Hale at the Schnucks Valentine’s Breakfast in 2003

A couple of posts back I asked the following question: what does love look like to you? In the photo of my grandparents above you’ll find something that fills me with love, which is the four of them. I took this photo over 10 years ago at the last Schnucks Valentine’s Day Breakfast that all four of them attended. I typically don’t write super long blog posts, but if you want to find out a bit more about me and the wonderful people I’ve been blessed to have in my life, then continue reading.

My dad’s parents (Grandma & Grandpa Crader, pictured standing in the photo above) will hopefully celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary later this year. Whenever I tell folks that my grandparents have been married over 70 years, there is always a look of amazement on their faces, and when I tell them that both sets of my grandparents were married more than 70 years, there is a look of disbelief in these same folks’ eyes. My mom’s parents (pictured seated above) are no longer alive, but they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary before my grandfather passed away in 2005. My dad’s parents, which you’ll see in the story below, are both still alive and have been married over 74 years to date. I asked them recently what they attribute this to and both of their responses were that they always talked about everything and made decisions together. Whenever they did have a disagreement, they didn’t do so in front of their kids and they always communicated with each other in an open way. In the article below, you’ll see them being recognized as the longest-married couple during the 37th annual Schnucks Supermarket Valentine’s Day Breakfast. Most people probably read the article you’ll see below and didn’t think much of this award, but it has SO much meaning to me.

After I graduated from college in 2000, I decided to start my photography business. Things were going well and I was enjoying doing commercial work for businesses and magazines and I began to make a name for myself in the local editorial world. I was working hard and seeing my dream of photographing for magazines happen. That next year, my mothers’ mom (Grandma Hale) fell and broke her hip. The Internet was in full force at that time and I could work just about anywhere on most projects that I did, so after talking with my family I decided to move in with my grandparents to help them out during my grandmother’s recovery. I thought I’d be there for a few months until my grandmother recovered fully, but this three months turned into three years. My grandmother’s recovery didn’t go as smooth as planned, so I stayed with them. I consider those three years some of the best years of my life. I got to be with my grandparents all the time, and I learend so many life lessons from them.

One event both Grandma & Grandpa Hale never missed was the Schnucks Valentine’s Day Breakfast. They were both loyal customers of Schnucks grocery store for decades, and they loved going to the Valentine’s Day event. Their yearly hope was that they’d win the competition for being married the longest, but they never did. There was always a couple there that was married a year or two longer than them. I remember taking them to the last Valentine’s Day breakfast that they attended, and we just knew that they were going to win because they had been married 70 years, but there was a couple there that had been married 71 years that beat them. Although they never won, I’m sure both of them are smiling down on my Grandma & Grandpa Crader tonight seeing that they won the competition outright this year. As you’ll see in the photos below, the breakfast is held in sort of a banquet fashion with multiple couples sitting at each table. Most years, Schnucks would provide a beautiful centerpiece at each table for the couple who was married the longest at that individual table. Each year, my Grandma and Grandpa Crader would sit with my Grandma and Grandpa Hale. Grandma and Grandpa Crader knew they would never get the centerpiece as long as they sat with Grandma and Grandpa Hale, but they did this same thing each and every year. Since my Grandma and Grandpa Hale’s passing in 2005 & 2006, there has been an empty spot at the table my dad’s parents sit out when they attend this event.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and my Grandma & Grandpa Crader have been trying to win the award for being the longest married couple for the last few years. They were unsuccessful until yesterday! I was so happy to find out that they won! I could tell when I talked to Grandma Crader last night, that she was still excited from winning and Grandpa was so exhausted that he was in bed. 🙂 The story you’ll see below is one that most people probably passed over in their local newspaper today, but it is one that fills me with so much pride, happiness and love. I’m blessed to have such a great family and role models. I’m sure there aren’t too many folks alive that can say both sets of their grandparents were married for over 70 years.

I really appreciate the Southeast Missourian for covering this event and capturing the photo you see below of my grandparents. This story has so much meaning to me and I’m so thankful that they sent a reporter and photographer to cover the event. This has brought back so many memories. The two people you see below embody what love is to me.

Here is the link to the online article about my Grandma & Grandpa Crader: http://www.semissourian.com/story/1941523.html


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