A Difference Of Outlook


One afternoon my Grandad said to me, “Son, to men, women always remain a mysterious entity while to women, men become a flawed utility.” He made the comment with a chuckle and it made me smile because I remember Grandma telling grandad time and again that “You never load the dishwasher correctly,” or saying to any one present “He never puts things back in the right place,” which was possibly a little harsh. There were other observations of a similar nature but the irony was, if anyone else but her was forward enough to criticise him, she would launch herself at them with one or two of those pithy observations for which she was famous.

Of course, from a woman’s point of view I can see that my grandfather could be exasperating. Part of him was over- detached and, I suspect, if he was watching his house burn down he might well turn to me and say, “Son, do you notice how every flame that rises is unique. Looked at selflessly, there is a miracle in everything you see” which might be true, but the need to act is sometimes more urgent than the ability to observe: a factor he could overlook.

He was a teacher of English at the local institute and his reluctance to prioritise was a source of wonder or irritation to many, but probably not central to his occupation. I once raised the subject of men who were violent or without conscience and he nodded. “There is an example for anything you want to imagine in life, sad as that is, but I am what is called a domesticated male and grinning weakly is my last retort.” He was the least self-important man I knew and somehow the most inspiring.

On the subject of my grandma most of my grandad’s remarks were made by means of eyebrow movements but even in their eighties I remember him saying of her, “When your grandma walks she is the picture of grace: do you know that” and I did because he said the same thing about her regularly. She was an ice skater of some note in her youth and that innate sense of balance and poise remained present in her movements.

He was capable of wearing out her patience with an unbroken supply of good humour until she would just shake her head and retire behind her knitting. I remember him saying on another occasion, “When God created men and women a passing angel said, “If they don’t kill each other they’ll have to learn to live together” and I agree with that.

At the end of his life, he contracted pneumonia, born with his customary good grace and she nursed him tirelessly while criticising him for going out in the rain in the first place. At the heart of their relationship, it seemed to me, was her belief that, hopeless as he was, he reminded her of the possibility of “Good” and she protected that in him every day.

As fate would have it, the strain of caring for him in those last days caused her to have a heart attack and she actually died two days before him. I remember being astonished by the news and thinking there must be some mistake, but there wasn’t.

They were buried on the same day, and lie in death, as they did for fifty-three years in life, together and in the same bed. “Life is a mystery son” he said to me, “But an engrossing one” and in all my days their marriage was the finest example of a life well lived I ever saw: their union gave a purpose to his days and my grandma the freedom to be herself.

Hidden behind her irritation was the knowledge that beyond him lay wilderness, from which his love protected her, and in her cherishing of him the world became civilised. I shall miss them dearly.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Life, Love, marriage, Peter Wells, Relationships, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to A Difference Of Outlook

  1. mikesteeden says:

    As ever a gem of a read…even if Grandad does rather remind me of me!

    Like

  2. Beautiful tribute! Touching story. What an amazing couple! The world is a better place having known even this small bit of their lives and their love. Thanks for sharing it…

    Like

  3. davidprosser says:

    How much better is the world for having had their company. How good were the days when people worked to make their marriages a success instead of treating them as something disposable.
    I can well understand why you would miss them Peter.
    Hugs

    Like

  4. Very moving, Peter. This struck a deep chord.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Condemned to put up with each other for all eternity! A true old fashioned love story.

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  6. bloggeray says:

    So poignant and wonderful. Loved reading it. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gotham girl says:

    Really loved this one Peter! Thank you!

    Like

  8. An amazing, gorgeous read, Peter.
    Thank you for your words and insights.
    I can def. understand where you got your wisdom from! xx

    Like

  9. What a wonderful story. My growing fear is I’ll die after my husband. I don’t want a life without him.

    Like

  10. Al says:

    This is as good an entry as I have ever enjoyed from you, Peter, and that’s saying something considering they are all most exquisite reads. I suspect though, that coming from the heart is what brings it to a level above the others.

    Like

  11. piratepatty says:

    What a wonderful story! You were very blessed to have them both in your life!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The Bioman says:

    Dittto!! I really enjoyed this – thanks ever so!

    Like

  13. Sheer loveliness…

    Like

  14. Scarlet says:

    Heart warming, Mr Ducks.
    Sx

    Like

  15. eths says:

    Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. jbuliesblog says:

    So beautifully written Mr. Wells. It reminds me a lot of my grandparents. My grandmother would read at the table and my grandfather wouldn’t go to the movies but oh, how they loved.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Aren’t we all puzzles to each other? We just have more tolerance for the mystery if we don’t have to live with it 24/7!

    As I read your wonderful story, I remembered some wisdom from long-ago marriage counseling (which, by the way, ultimately failed). “Treat your spouse as least as well as you would any guest in your home.” Many people forget to overlook the “quirks” that make each person unique and delight in diversity. Instead, they choose to criticize loved ones for doing things “wrong” or not being a certain way. More’s the pity.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Glynis Jolly says:

    A beautiful tribute. Thoughts of my own grandparents came to mind as I read your account. It’s remarkable how some couple naturally show their love for each other during the ups and downs of daily life.

    Like

  19. restlessjo says:

    I started out assuming you were telling me a story, Peter, but as I read on it became apparent that this one is more than that. I love the quote about the passing angel. I’m sorry for your loss but it’s good to know that they’ve gone hand in hand. 🙂

    Like

  20. What a beautiful couple, you are so fortunate to have known them. I love your granddad’s quotes, they’re brilliant.

    Like

  21. davidjrogersftw says:

    Your Granddad sounds a lot like my father, and I suspect, like me too. “A Difference of Outlook” is a beautiful and sweet tribute t your grandfather and grandmother too. I’m happy I read it, Peter.

    Like

  22. Pingback: The Mystery of Women… | RJ's Corner

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