7 Ways My Grandparents' Love Prepared Me For My First Serious Relationship
If a guy ever began our date with, "You're late, next time I'm not waiting," I'd curtail the amount of time at said date as much as possible.
Yet oddly enough, my grandmother once received this very warning and decided she was up for the challenge.
She was to meet my grandfather at 14th Street, but missed her train after sneaking out of the house in secrecy. He considered her late arrival as a disregard for punctuality, yet to this day, she applauds herself for such a stealth move.
And after one incredibly charming opener, my grandparents — who seemed to be on two different pages, yet somehow totally in sync — set out on their first date. And the rest of their lives.
They were a huge part of my childhood. We lived under the same roof for most of my life, and I loved every aspect of growing up with them: nightly dinners, summer afternoons at the driving range, school concerts my grandmother said she'd only been 9/10 excited for.
My grandfather, who I called "Pal," was a daredevil, climbing on more ladders than a fireman and shoveling snow in a leather jacket at 90 years old. I'll never stop missing him.
My granny is still a feisty Italian woman at 89-years-young whose favorite word is (and always will be) "no."
I lived the Rose and Joe sitcom for over 20 years and never saw a love quite like theirs.
Now that I find myself in my most serious relationship to date — with a guy whose name my grandmother cannot remember (it's Tom) — I realize my dynamic duo has provided many invaluable love lessons over the years, though my granny will always think her best piece of advice is to eat before leaving the house.
Here's what the good, the bad and the impatient have taught me.
Have respect for the people your SO surrounds him or herself with.
Though my grandmother is quick to say my grandfather's best friend "was never really the best looking" and she plans to point blank ignore her mother-in-law when they meet in heaven (assuming that's where they'll both be), I've learned from her prime example to pretty much approach this from an opposite point of view.
When you think about it, these friends and relatives helped shape your partner in one way or another, and whether or not you agree with what they do, they're part of your significant other's world — and will be part of yours, too.
I might find my boyfriend's brother's jokes more insensitive than funny, and he might not find my uncle's flossing at the dinning room table terribly alluring, either.
Regardless, all of those jokes, all of the guidance and years of big bro nurturing have brought out qualities like Tom's silly personality and infectious laugh, and for that I am eternally grateful.
The little things have the greatest impact.
Something as seemingly insignificant as Tom reading a story I've worked on makes my day.
I know it means he supports me and the work I do … even if it means he has to read something related to chicklit novels. He has my back.
Likewise, as did my grandmother when she encouraged my grandfather's golfing hobby. She was supportive, she was happy this activity made him happy ... and she got him out of the house for a day. Perfect.
You're going to get mad, and that's OK.
In my family, there's a place we like to hypothetically put our most out-of-hand relatives.
We call it "the fucking shed," where my grandfather has threatened to lock my grandmother after her most intolerable bouts of stubbornness.
There are times when you will be totally out of sync and completely ready to lock your significant other in the fucking shed, next to the fertilizer. It happens.
That doesn't mean you won't work things out if you get into an argument. It means you're human. If we had actually locked people in said fucking shed, I wouldn't be sharing this little family anecdote with you.
And yes, that is how we always refer to our backyard staple.
You can have different interests, as long as your core beliefs are the same.
My granny liked Pavarotti. My Pal was always in favor of Sinatra.
She watched "Everybody Loves Raymond," but he wanted to know if it would be a "deal or no deal" on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?".
Despite differences, at the end of the day, they both agreed that family is everything.
That meant picking up mozzarella to make their youngest granddaughter's favorite dinner, or sitting with her when she cried at the head of the stairs when her rejection letter from Fordham arrived.
Tom might be an athlete while I still don't know what a layup is, but when it comes to the important things like careers, goals and family, our thoughts align.
It's just too bad he doesn't fully understand my impeccable taste in rock bands.
Be patient (at least try).
If my grandparents planned to get groceries at noon, my grandfather was ready at 9 — just in case something required extra attention.
It led to a lot of huffing and puffing from my grandmother and her favorite expression -- "Joe!" -- which she always said in her stern, staccato voice. She didn't like when he was on her heels.
She might not have appreciated his overly punctual ways, and I might think Tom can't make a plan at times, but with more patience, we'd both realize we are doing something with the person we love.
They're making an effort to act as a team. There's nothing too problematic with that, right?
Tom just better hope that wherever we're going the F train is running, because I can be patient for him, but the MTA is another story.
Stay true to who you are, even when you're acting as a team.
My Pal loved going to his country club to play the same golf course with the same group of men who were all deaf in one ear ... and most definitely shouldn't have been driving a golf cart.
My granny, on the other hand, didn't care for this environment, for whatever her reason. Even though I personally thought she could've sucked it up for an afternoon at the putting green, my Pal knew that this was his thing, and it was OK she didn't agree because she didn't expect him to change something he loved to suit what she didn't.
Tom went into our relationship knowing we were living at a distance, and getting me to leave Brooklyn is a feat in itself. I love the city, and it'd break my heart to part ways with my favorite place in the world. And Tom wouldn't expect me to.
The city is my thing, my love before boys were even in the picture. So we schlep on the rush hour train back and forth between Long Island and Brooklyn, and we make it work.
Appreciate what you have, because not everything is forever.
In all of my grandfather's quirks — his need to be six hours early, his inability to pair his brown socks with his grey slacks — my grandmother realized now how much she loved everything about him, the good and the bad.
She knows how amazing their life was and misses him every day. I'm right behind her.
Seeing how this loss affected her has made me so appreciative of what I had ... and what I have now.