I must have kept every single card my husband ever gave me in the twenty-five years we’ve been together: Anniversary cards. Birthday greetings. Christmas and Easter cards when we were engaged. Some, early on, with brief notes penned by my husband. Others–the later ones–simply signed.
Today, I recycled them all.
And my husband did the same with the cards I gave him.
But I did keep this note, written in my grandmother Alice’s hand…a note I discovered shortly after her death…a note that records a conversation she’d had with her husband, my grandfather.
April 28, 1991
Conversation at dinner table
Ken: (having been reading “John Cell…” [the rest is illegible]) said, “I could not write a book like that now if my life depended on it.”
Alice: “You probably could if you were interested.”
Alice: “You don’t seem to be interested in anything.”
Ken: “Um…” (in consent more or less).
Alice: “You could try.”
Ken: “It just doesn’t seem to be worthwhile. Nothing is worthwhile without you.”
Alice: “Well that’s true for each of us.”
I can see my grandparents sitting at the kitchen table during this exchange…my grandfather’s glass of buttermilk…their blue dishes, neatly set. I can see their poodles beneath that table, noses poking up the tablecloth as they beg for scraps. I can hear the clock ticking gently in the background. I can hear the sadness in their voices as they struggle to come to terms with my grandfather’s cancer.
This note I will keep, as proof of a deep and lasting love. And if my husband and I feel the same about each other near the end of our lives, our love and marriage will have been a success, even without all those recycled cards to prove it.