When I was getting married in 1997, as the oldest granddaughter, my grandmother wanted me to borrow her little white Holy Bible, which she had carried in her wedding in 1949. I was honored that she wanted to do this for me. She and my grandfather had been married for 48 years by this time, and the Bible was still in beautiful condition. I carried the Bible with my bouquet and made sure I kept track of it during my day, until I could safely return it to Grandma.
My Grandma was a special woman. She grew up on a farm with two sisters and no brothers, so she helped her father in the barn and in the field. After she married Grandpa, she moved to his farm. She worked outside the home and helped with the farm chores until their children started coming along. Then she quit her job outside the home. They raised six children, as well as cows, sheep, pigs and chickens on their dairy farm.
Grandma was always busy. You could find her milking cows, feeding calves, helping to put hay in the barn, pulling weeds, mending britches, canning and freezing fruit and vegetables, or baking something delicious in her country kitchen. She was always on the go, but she always had time for her family and friends.
Even after she “retired,” she stayed busy. She baked goodies for the elderly people in the neighborhood (most of them were her age, but I never questioned her about how old she thought she was). She worked in her flower beds and small gardens, and she wrote letters and sent cards to her grandkids in college, as well as to friends and family that lived far away.
She and Grandpa were married for 51 years. When Grandpa got sick, Grandma took care of him at home until he passed away. She took her wedding vows to heart – through good times and bad, sickness and health, until death do you part – and she stood by Grandpa through all of those years.
When Grandma became frail and was unable to stay at home by herself, the family took turns staying with her so she could remain in her own home where she was comfortable. I usually went over on Saturdays, and we would read the newspaper or work on jigsaw puzzles. Sometimes we looked at family pictures. She was very proud of the farm she and Grandpa had built together, and she was also proud of her six children, 20 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
When Grandma passed away, I received her little white Bible. Every time I look at it I think of my grandparents’ commitment to each other and the example they set for their children and grandchildren. My husband and I recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, and while we have a long way to go to reach Grandpa and Grandma’s 51 years, I look forward to all the years to come.
Windsor, New York
Read more heirloom stories in Keepsakes Passed Down Through Generations.