Ben and I received a couple’s devotion book as a wedding gift from the couple we did our pre-marital counseling with. The first night’s devotion was a powerful one. I cried as I read it out loud to Ben and we both were blown away by the story. I wanted to share it with you all since it has been on our mind constantly over the last few weeks.
By Laura Jeanne Allen
My grandparents were married for over half a century. From the time they met each other they played their own special game. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was his or her turn to hide it once more.
They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring. “Shmily” was written in the steam on the bathroom mirror, where it would reappear after every hot shower. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet.
There was no end to the places “shmily” popped up. Little notes with a hastily scribbled “shmily” were found on dashboards and car seats or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. “Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparent’s house as the furniture.
It took me a long time before I fully appreciated my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love – one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection that not everyone experiences.
Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other’s sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome an old man he had grown to be. She claimed that she really know “how to pick ‘em.” Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.
But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ life: My grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.
Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, she went to church with him every Sunday. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.
“Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow in the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowed thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and, taking a shaky breath, began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.
Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.
S-h-m-i-l-y: See How Much I Love You.
Thank you , Grandma and Grandpa, for letting me see.
This devotion meant so much for a number of reasons. One reason is that we do something similar with a little plastic penguin. For the last few years this penguin has resided in my bathroom and whenever Ben came to visit he would kidnap the penguin and find a new home for it; the freezer, microwave, under my pillow, in my compute speaker and even threatened to put the penguin in my fish tank. I would unknowingly reach for a kitchen bowl or open a drawer to find the penguin looking up at me. Every time my stomach filled with butterflies and I couldn’t help but grin and giggle at the new hiding spot that Ben has found. Since we’ve been married this penguin has continued to travel, now with both of us finding little spots to hide it. There is nothing better than reaching into my backpack on a dreary Monday morning to find the penguin. My day is instantly better!
Here is a glimpse at where our little penguin friend, named Kowalski, has traveled.
Sometimes it would take me so long to find the penguin, that I thought Ben took it!! One time I was so worried I created a Missing Poster in hopes someone *cough cough* Ben would return him.
Now, SHMILY is making an appearance. Twice this week Ben has used this adorable word. This morning he left for work at 7am and I didn’t get up until 7:30am. When I woke up a thermos of coffee was waiting for me on the dining room table with a note saying one word, SHMILY on it. What a wonderful way to start the morning.
And as for the penguin, he is currently taking a nice nap in a comfy place just waiting for Ben to discover him…