In 1944, Eunice Shaw boarded a train, without telling her mother. She was on her way to marry her fella, Jack Humbert, a soldier from Newport, Kentucky, stationed in Texas. When she arrived, she tried to stay in the house where all the visiting girlfriends were boarding, but the matron in charge told her she had to call home first. She did so begrudgingly, and shortly thereafter, Jack and Eunice were married.
Jack and Eunice are my grandparents. I learned the rebellious and romantic details of their love story during one of my visits to see my Nana when I was in high school and college. As soon as I could drive, I enjoyed visiting them by myself. I liked having their complete attention. Nan always welcomed me with a cup of tea and if I was lucky, some monkey bread. After Pop passed away, Nan and I would spend hours talking about him. Those visits are some of my most treasured memories.
I went to Nan for love advice. I trusted her because I knew she loved me, I knew she didn't know anything about the current dating world, and I knew her heart was the most direct and open line to God that I would ever find. I frequently asked her the question that all young girls are wondering: How do you know when you've found "the one?" That's how I learned about her and Pop's early dating years. Nan always responded with a laugh and a grin and usually another more probing question, but one day she answered with a statement that cut me to my core. She said, "Rachael, you'll know you've found the right one when you stop coming here to ask me that question." And, as always, she was completely right.
I always left Nan's house feeling centered and calm. A cup of tea with Nana and a long talk was better than any yoga class or Catholic mass. She had a quiet conviction about her. She knew things. She was certain that God was working in our lives daily and she never doubted that his love was real and steadfast. She was not a worrier. She explained to me that worry can easily be replaced with faith. She prayed every morning and every night; and she began and ended those prayers with her grandchildren's names, surrounded by pictures of our little, preschool faces. On my worst days, especially when I was away at college, it gave me great peace to know that she was praying for me. When nothing else in the world seemed right, at least Nana was in my corner, sending up those holy lifelines.
On one of my last visits, I was scooping my sweet baby girl off the floor and tossing toys into a diaper bag when I noticed Nana staring at the portrait of her and Pop. She said to me, "It's been seven years since Pop passed. It can't be too much longer for me now, can it?" What she said didn't strike me nearly as much as the way she said it. She was hopeful. She was tired. She really missed her fella.
Early this morning, Nan hopped on that train again. Her vibrant, faithful soul has been reunited with the one she loves. I'm certain he met her in uniform and she giggled in her crisp skirt, blouse and jacket. From that place, the love they shared can be poured out into the world again, renewing all of us and reminding us that there is no need to worry.
And when things get tough, when I really need her the most, I'll know she's still in my corner.
I'm Rachael. My occupations include, in this order: daughter, sister, friend, teacher, wife, and mother. I may seem like a grown up, but don't be fooled - I have no idea what I'm doing. We have lots of family around the world, so this blog is our way of saying, "Here's what's going on in our little corner."