After tacking a Mojo Jojo Valentine's card from my daughter Annie on my bulletin board, I thought about my granddad.
Not because Lloyd Paschal looked like the evil monkey nemesis of the Power Puff Girls. But because in the middle of all the hubbub over love and lust that swirls around Valentine's Day, I thought about the elegant simplicity of the relationship he had with my grandmother.
The two married in 1924, and stayed together until Grandmama's death parted them in 1988. Granddaddy worked as a farmer and as a school-system maintenance man. Grandmama was a homemaker, raising eight children in their Winfield home.
We often hear how finances strain relationships, and how poverty causes crime. If that were universally true, Granddaddy and Grandmama would have never made it past their 10th anniversary in the Great Depression. And crime? Please. Anyone who knew Granddaddy would vouch for his iron-clad honesty.
Growing up, I never knew how vigilant they had to be about finances, but between the two of the they could stretch a dollar tighter than a banjo string. Some of it is no secret; we'd all save money, for example, if we cooked at home instead of eating out so much.
But I also remember Grandmama saving slivers of soap in a little tub to remake into new bars, and laying the wrappers of margarine sticks across newly-baked rolls to melt the last few drops out of the paper.
She made quilts for her grandchildren when they married, using scraps from clothes she sewed. My wife and I wed just after the Disco era, so our quilt includes heavy double-knit polyester pieces from the hideous lime-green leisure suit she made for Granddaddy.
And while Granddaddy was a member of what's been called "The Greatest Generation," I like to think of them also as "The Fix-It Generation." Many of this generation out of necessity could fix just about anything. Granddaddy was equally adept doctoring his Farm-All tractor as he was healing a sick calf -- or patching up part of a granddaughter's ear.
The old song asks, "Who wrote the book of love?" Granddaddy and Grandmama would say God did. The two had a depth of faith that was remarkable, and church was an integral part of their relationship. Grandmama ran the church library, and Granddaddy was a deacon.
Vividly I remember how visiting grandchildren joined them in their nightly snack of popcorn cooked on the stove, peanuts parched in the oven or a bowl of ice milk (Grandmama bought the cheap stuff from Winn Dixie) while studying a Bible lesson and saying daily prayers.
Now, what does all this have to do with Mojo Jojo? Just this: I don't know that Granddaddy ever had, or needed, a mass-production card to express his feelings for Grandmama. And I never saw the two of them engaging in open displays of physical affection, though with so many children we know something must have happened under those quilts.
Yet the way they lived and interacted with other people taught me just about everything I need to know about the meaning of love. Yeah, I know, it's sentimental. But when I look around at a world in which romance has been reduced to preprinted cards and high-pressure jewelry commercials, I realize that Granddaddy and Grandmama got along just fine with a Bible and cheap ice cream.
I imagine, up in heaven on Monday, they celebrated Valentine's Day the same way they did in their 63 1/2 years down here -- like just another day. It's hard to make Valentine's Day different when every single day is special.
And that, my own darling bride of nearly 21 years, is why I didn't buy you a Valentine's Day card.
Anyone got a spare couch? I'll bring my quilt.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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