The Lessons That 50 Years Of "I Love You's" Can Teach Our Generation

The Lessons That 50 Years Of "I Love You's" Can Teach Our Generation

A thank you to the foundation of my family
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G & P,

50 years. Five decades. Think about all of the things that have changed in 50 years: the president, technology, medical advancements, education, style. One thing has remained the same through all of these many changes ... the love between my grandparents. This weekend my grandparents will celebrate their 50 years together. It is hard to believe that long before I existed on this Earth, before my parents were even a thought in anyone's mind, my Grandpa Clint and Grandma Patty had already begun their journey through life together. It is not every day that we see this kind of love in our world.

In a time where divorce, separation and affairs are not uncommon, there are those few people who have stuck to the vows which they made to each other from the beginning. Life has not always been easy for the two of them, but between my grandfather’s positive attitude and fun-loving personality, and my grandma’s ability to work hard and provide selfless love and care to her family, they have managed to stick things out through both good and bad. I am proud to say I have such amazing grandparents to look up to, and to guide my expectations and values in my own personal relationships. Though times may be different, and trends may have faded, the love my grandparents provide to my family will always be the same.

This is something I think all millennials should strive for in their relationships today. There is a mentality that relationships don’t have to, and even shouldn’t have to, last long. Rather than sticking it out through a hard time or situation, it has become normalized to simply throw in the towel. People strive to find a love that requires no work; one that is “meant to be”. The ideals we see on social media, television, and magazines of perfect couples rarely exist in real life. Since there are so many options in the dating pool between work, school, dating websites, etc. it is often thought by many people that they must continue searching until they find someone with no flaws or imperfections.

Things like Tinder have given us the ability to swipe yes or no; to judge someone for compatibility immediately based on their physical features and looks. With so many options how will you find “the one”? We should resort back to the old mentality of relationships and learn how to stick things out through the good and the bad, take the time to really get to know someone and their personality before “swiping left” on them.

To all of the married couples celebrating years upon years together: I believe you deserve to be recognized. It is not every day you come across a couple who has honored their promise of “till death do us part”, and I think that should be honored. So, to my grandparents on their special day I wish you many more years of happiness, love, and joy surrounded by a family who loves you so very much. Thank you for the 50 years of support, guidance, care, and laughs you have provided; thank you for building a foundation for our family to grow upon.

Love,

Carli


Cover Image Credit: personal

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The Thank You My Dad Deserves

While our moms are always the heroes, our dads deserve some credit, too.
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Dear Dad,

You’ve gone a really long time without being thanked. I'm not talking about thanks for things like opening the Gatorade bottle I couldn't or checking my tires when my car’s maintenance light is flashing, but rather the thanks I owe you for shaping me into the person I am today.

Thank you for teaching me what I deserve and for not letting me settle for anything less.

While the whole world was telling me I wasn’t good enough, you were there to tell me I was. Whether this was with boys, a friend, or anything else, you always built my confidence to a place I couldn’t build it to on my own. You showed me what my great qualities were and helped me feel unique. But most of all, you never let me settle for anything less than what I deserved, even when I wanted to. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as ambitious, outgoing or strong.

Thank you for giving me someone to make proud.

It’s hard to work hard when it’s just for myself, but so easy when it’s for you. All through school, nothing made me happier than getting a good grade back because I knew I got to come home and tell you. With everything I do, you give me a purpose.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Say When Calling Your Dad On The Phone

Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like.

You are the prime example of what putting your family first looks like. If me wanting something means that you can’t get what you want, you’ll always sacrifice. From wearing the same t-shirts you’ve had since I was in elementary school so I could buy the new clothes I wanted, to not going out with your friends so you could come to my shows, you never made a decision without your family at the forefront of your mind. If there is one quality you have that I look up to you for the most, it’s your ability to completely put your needs aside and focus entirely on the wants of others.

Thank you for being the voice in the back of my head that shows me wrong from right.

Even though many of your dad-isms like “always wear a seatbelt” easily get old, whenever I’m in a situation and can’t decide if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I always can hear you in the back of my head pointing me in the right direction. While I may not boost your ego often enough by telling you you’re always right, you are.

Thank you for being real with me when nobody else will.

Being your child hasn’t always been full of happiness and encouragement, but that’s what makes you such an integral part of my life. Rather than sugarcoating things and always telling me I was the perfect child, you called me out when I was wrong. But what separates you from other dads is that instead of just knocking me down, you helped me improve. You helped me figure out my faults and stood by me every step of the way as I worked to fix them.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a great man looks like.

I know that marriage may seem very far down the road, but I just want you to know that whoever the guy I marry is, I know he’ll be right because I have an amazing guy to compare him to. I know you’re not perfect (nobody is), but you’ve raised me in a such a way that I couldn’t imagine my kids being raised any differently. Finding a guy with your heart, drive, and generosity will be tough, but I know it will be worth it.


Dad, you’re more than just my parent, but my best friend. You’re there for me like nobody else is and I couldn’t imagine being where I am now without you.

Love you forever,

Your little girl

Cover Image Credit: Caity Callan

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There Will Never Be A Home Like Your Grandparents' House

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go.

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I didn't realize how essential families were to the holidays until I spent the holidays missing someone who wasn't there.

My grandpaMadelyn Neal

On Christmas Day, I went to my grandmother's home in small-town Kentucky to celebrate. I was particularly worried about how empty the house would feel without my grandfather. I couldn't help but think of what I would have gotten him for Christmas, his favorite catch-phrases that I would have heard non-stop, and even what he would have ordered at Domino's (yes, our traditional Christmas meal is takeout).

But despite it all, I had a nice Christmas, and it seemed as though maybe he wasn't as far away as he previously seemed.

Wedding photosMadelyn Neal

In the short weeks after he passed, I kept waiting to "feel his presence" or a sign from him, as everyone always says you will no doubt feel. That said, I realized that it was the things he left behind that really helped me to feel closer to him.

When we sat down to dinner, with his customary seat left open for him, it seemed to everyone at the table that for a moment, he was there with us.

When we made a fire in his fireplace and began to listen to the crackle, I could almost hear the typical accompanying snoring coming from his corner of the couch.

His go-to fishing pole on the deck of his pond seemed as if it was just resting after hours of use.

The next morning, when I went outside to feed his deer their daily cracked cornmeal, I swore they were listening for his whistle that signaled the dinner bell.

There truly is no place like grandmother's house.

Me and my grandmotherMadelyn Neal

There is nothing that soothes the soul better than taking on the task of feeding his deer friends, looking at old pictures and even trying on my grandmother's old wedding dress and mom's old prom dresses.

Wearing my grandmother's wedding dress.Madelyn Neal

In the spirit of New Year's resolutions, find your happy place, listen to the quiet and you'll find both yourself and your lost loved ones there. When the clock chimed at night, I felt the most at peace I have felt in a long time. I can't wait for the next visit to see my grandmother, because I know every time I visit, not only will I enjoy watching our favorite movies, learning how to knit and eating our delicious family specialties, but I'll also welcome the comforting feeling that what we have lost isn't lost, it's just not as visible as we would like.

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