Can we love the way our grandparents did?
by Hilary Molyneaux – Feb. 17, 2011
While most of our grandparents were listening to songs like “Our Love is Here to Stay” and “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You”, these days we’re more likely to hear something along the lines of Enrique’s “Tonight (I’m Fuckin’ You)” or Usher’s “Love in This Club”. Perhaps, I considered, we’re not even living in the age of love anymore. Is it only a matter of time before J-Biebs and Tay Swift, old souls both, are completely alone in their quest for The One?
As I considered these things last week over a cup of coffee, true love literally sat itself right down at my table. This true love I speak of wasn’t my own, but rather that of 77-year-old Spryfield residents Jessie and Archie Jamieson. They fell in love at 16, married at 21, and almost 55 years later, they still look at each other like a couple of infatuated teenagers.
As Jessie waits for Archie to return from an appointment nearby, she tells me everything: about their life, their home, their travels, their children, Archie’s career, Archie’s hobbies, Archie’s personality and everything in between. A former machinist who joined the Air Force and later turned teacher, Archie’s career has taken the couple everywhere from Labrador to Germany to France and back. Jessie tells me how much she hated the travelling, but I begin to get the impression that she’d follow her husband through fire if need be.
After talking with Jessie for 15 minutes, I feel like I’ve known her for years. I ask her how she knew she was in love with Archie, expecting to hear a story reminiscent of something from The Notebook. “I have no idea,” she says in all seriousness. “Wait ‘till you see him… I just love him. He’s just that one type of a man. He’ll do anything for anybody, anytime. He’s a real gentleman. And everybody tells me how lucky I am with him. I am. I really am.”
Jessie continues to tell me about her two daughters, only seven months apart in age. Recognizing the perplexed look on my face, Jessie explains finding out that she was pregnant with Heather two months after adopting their first child, Gayle. Heather, who has been married for 30 years, has one daughter of her own and two grandchildren. Just like any great-grandmother would, Jessie pulls out pictures of her great-grandchildren, (Braedyn, four, and Ashley, six) and tells me about their mother, her granddaughter, who was married for only five years before her husband was sent to Afghanistan. Though wounded while over there, Major Corporal Gallant returned safely. He received a medal of honour for using his body to shield and begin treating a wounded soldier while under enemy gunfire. Upon his first return home, the couple renewed their vows. Her family hasn’t been completely lucky in love, though. Gayle, who is their oldest daughter, was married 17 years before getting divorced. “What a heartbreak.”
“We went to a party the other night, we’re all up in our 70s, and we’re all married. Now some of our children are starting to get divorced. Look at all these people turning 25—they have a great big wedding, four, five thousand dollars. Turn around tomorrow and they’re divorced. No offence, but that’s the truth. That’s the truth. I don’t think they stop and think.”
Jessie’s attention turns to the door and as a look that could only be described as lovestruck falls across her face, I know exactly who I’m about to meet. After official introductions are made, Archie asks us both if he can get us anything and rushes off to get Jessie a tea. “See?” Jessie nudges me. “I told ya, didn’t I? I tell you right now you don’t find too many like him. He’s well-liked. He’ll do anything for anybody.”
The praises Jessie has sung are not without merit; Archie is quiet, thoughtful, good-natured, and very sweet. I ask him how he and Jessie met. “Oh, we were just buddies I guess…” He winks at Jessie. She giggles.
Though Jessie says she doesn’t remember much about her engagement, the colourful details she provides me with about the day he proposed suggest otherwise. “He asked my father. And I remember it was downstairs, in the hallway. He came out with my ring, it was just a plain solitaire.” She shows off her original diamond, set in a row alongside two that were added later on. “It means ‘I love you,’” she says, pointing to each individual stone.
After about an hour, I remember why I began talking to the couple in the first place, and ask them if they’ve made plans for Valentine’s day. “I might give him a kiss in the mornin’,” Jessie quips. “No, we never do.”
“Not yet, anyway,” Archie chimes in. “Whatever happens to come along on that particular day.”
The conversation leaves me with an unusual mixture of hope and despair. If true love exists, these two seem to have found it. But they seem so drastically different from young couples today. No boy I know has ever looked at a girl the way Archie looks at Jessie. Sigh.
The Jamiesons make their way for the door, with Archie leading the way. As Jessie and I say our goodbyes, I discreetly ask her how she and Archie really met. She turns ahead to look at him, gently pulls me in and whispers:
“I stole him from my girlfriend!”
Maybe there’s hope for us yet.