A Love Story – 70 years and counting | Mid Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Mid Michigan Lifestyle Photographer | A Love Story: Meet David & Grace

Back in December of 2017, I was visiting with my grandparents in Illinois and wanted to document a brief moment of their day-to-day life, because unfortunately, they are getting older and I selfishly wanted to be able to remember these simple moments of spending time with them.

You see, over the years, my grandparents have withstood good times, bad times, and everything in between, but they never once gave up on their relationship or each other.

In just the past 8 years, I have witnessed them stand by each others side in three major life events.

February 2010: Grandma had a very unexpected arterial venous malformation (AVM) in her brain, which was a cluster of vessels that untangled and burst and required brain surgery.
As a result of the brain surgery, she had to re-learn how to talk, walk, eat, drink, control her left side, etc., but through all of that Grandpa never left her side and took the best care of her.
The pure love you could see in his eyes and hear in his voice as he took care of her while she was recovering is the kind of love that everyone always dreams of experiencing in their own life, but rarely ever does.

December 2010: Grandpa had to have a quadruple bypass, not even a year after Grandma’s brain surgery, but thankfully made it through just fine.

2012-2013: My family starting noticing signs that Grandpa was starting to get Alzheimer’s.

Fast forward to 2016: My grandpa’s Alzheimer’s was getting to the point to where my family felt that it would be in the best interest of my grandparents for them to live closer to their daughter, but still be able to live on their own.
So that year, my grandparents moved into a “tiny house” on my parents property, where their daughter (my mom) is able to check in on them or be right there at the drop of a hat if need be.

Since my grandpa has Alzheimer’s, it means that his mood can vary by the day/hour/minute, but thankfully I was able to capture some very happy moments in time, which could probably be attributed to seeing his grandchildren and great-grandchild.

I am so excited and thankful that I was able to capture just how much my grandpa loves his wife and grandchildren.
I’m also thankful that there are still beautiful moments like these that give us all the needed strength to get through the “not-so-good” days and to remind us all that underneath the horrible disease that is known as Alzheimer’s, we still have the person that we love and care so much for and that he still feels the same about us.

Undoubtedly, I could write about my grandparents for days, but for now here are some of the wonderful moments that I captured for you to enjoy.
I hope these photos bring a smile to your face, just like they did mine. ♥

Ps. I wrote a little bit about their love story at the end of this blog, so don’t miss that!

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer
Funny little side note: Grandpa was being his ornery self in the above photos – he was poking at my camera lens LOL.

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

The story of my grandparents love started like this:

70 years ago at General Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, an 18 year old boy from Kenosha, Wisconsin met a 16 year old girl from Hillsboro, Illinois.

Following General Conference, the two of them kept in contact by good “old-fashioned” snail mail, because in the 1940’s text messaging, email, and even dial up internet was a thing of the future.
Although, Grandma says they exchanged a lot of letters – at least one a day – so basically the 1940’s equivalent of texting.

Grace’s older sister, Erma, was married to David’s older brother, Bob – so a year later when Grace (17) went to visit her sister and brother-in-law in Kenosha, David (19) proposed to her while they were sitting in his 1934 Nash. (I like to imagine that it looked something like this one — http://www.secondchancegarage.com/classic-car-photogallery12/1934-nash-ambassador/1934-nash-ambassador.cfm — now imagine how beautifully romantic that must’ve been. )
Pictured below is my grandma’s original engagement ring. Beautiful, classy, dainty, and vintage.

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Like the saying goes, “When you know, you know.
David and Grace knew they were meant to be together, because when they were 18 and 20 years old, they got married at Apostolic Faith Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and they’ve been together ever since.

One memory I will never forget is my Grandpa (David) telling me about their first apartment.
He would ever so fondly recall, with a sparkle in his eye and laughter in his voice, that they only had one twin bed that they both slept in and how his dad commented on that when he came to visit them.
That story would always end in Grandpa’s head tipped back while he laughed hard at recalling his dads comments on their single bed. (I never got to hear just what that comment was, but if Grandpa’s dad was half as ornery as Grandpa was, then I can only imagine.. LOL)
To top it off, their apartment didn’t have an actual bathroom in it – they had a shared bathroom down the hall – but when they would reminisce and tell the story of their first apartment together, none of those things seemed to matter to them.

Keeping up with their speedy timeline of things, Grace got pregnant soon after they got married (thank you twin bed, hahaha) and at 19 and 21 they became parents to their first child, little David Jr.
But things didn’t slow down for them any the next couple of years, because by the time Grace was 21, they had added two more babies – Ruth and Mary – to their family (and no, they weren’t twins!)
They also had two more children over the years: William Wesley, when they were 26 & 28, and my mom, Karen, when they were 34 & 36.

David and Grace’s favorite thing to do together was travel and spend time together – they lived in several different towns and a few different states in their 70 years together!
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Richview, Illinois
Lincoln, Illinois
Tupelo, Mississippi
Springfield, Illinois
Edinburgh, Illinois
Grayville, Illinois
Bradenton, Florida
And now they’re permanently settled in Flora, Illinois.

If you ever ask my grandma for advice on relationships, she will simply tell you: “Stick it out!”
My grandparents came from a generation where everything was valuable to them, so if something was broken, they didn’t just discard it and get something new and “better” – they took the time and fixed it.
Still, after being together almost every single day for the last 70 years, they hold hands on a daily basis.
Their love is the kind of love that I aspire to have in my own personal relationships, because not only have I witnessed how much they love each other unconditionally, but I’ve also witnessed how much they love people unconditionally. ♥

Below is a reminder of just how important photographs really are..

Photographs document your life; your existence, who you were, what you loved, and so on.
Once you’re gone from this world, one of the few things left to memorialize you and your life are photographs of you.
Don’t worry about what you look like, just take the time to be present in photos, because one day someone will look back on those photos and cherish them dearly.
I am so very thankful and grateful that my grandparents let me photograph them while I was visiting, and I’m also very thankful that they felt that it was important to have photographs taken over the years, because I love being able to look back and see my grandparents in all of the various eras and decades that they have been blessed enough to see and live in.

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Love Story: 70 years and counting | Michigan Lifestyle Photographer

Their story was featured on Love What Matters – They are truly an inspiration to all who know them.

Megan Helton Photography is a Michigan lifestyle photographer based in Lansing.
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