They have been married 55 years. They bicker. She constantly reminds him to lower his voice when he talks. He sighs in frustration, loudly. But when she walks, he watches her protectively, making sure she doesn’t need a hand. And he’s there, right beside her, if she ever does. When he tells a joke, there is a softness in her eyes as she looks at him.
Their love is fierce and deep. Aged by a lifetime together.
They arrived yesterday afternoon to visit for a couple days. They brought with them – as they always do – a spread of food that would make a grown man teary. Especially if that man had a weakness for cheese.
My brother and his girlfriend, who are still in town, came over. And three generations sat around the dinner table for our evening apéritif, laughing, talking, and sharing stories.
My grandmother talked about their first born (my aunt) who arrived faster than expected and was born on the living room couch. She teased my grandfather who, still after all these years, had a look of panic on his face as he relived the moment.
My parents recounted stories from Africa when my mother gave birth in a hospital with no electricity. And then stories from Pennsylvania, where my brother was born, when my parents drove 200 miles in the snow to reach the midwife who delivered him (while my grandmother went bowling, positive that Mom would be in labor much longer than she was – Mom still teases her about that one.)
And as we talked, we dug into the cheeses.
The triple crème brie was by far the favorite, its buttery creaminess melting on your tongue the second you took a bite. By the end of the evening all that was left of it were the knife marks on the cutting board. The gruyère was a close second; it’s salty hardness reminding me of childhood summers spent in the mountains of Switzerland playing in the cow fields with my cousins. Then there was the drunken goat, the gorgonzola, the blue cheese (extra moldy!), the aged cheddar, and the tome of semi-soft goat cheese with the super stinky rind. My brother raved about that one.
We laughed, sipped our wine, and kept repeating “This sliver is the last!” until we could eat no more.
And as I looked at my grandparents across the dining room table, I couldn’t help but compare their love to the perfectly aged cheese on the table: strong and tender, it shone with the unmistakable quality of years gone by.