I was twenty years old when I first met these two. I walked into their modest home, the new girlfriend of their oldest grandson. We sat down in at their drop-leaf wooden table, and we played Pictionary and laughed. A lot. We laughed until we cried.

It was here, in the midst of our rowdy game, as I was gasping for breath with laughter-tears running down my face, that I caught the eye of my now-husband across the table and he flashed me the “I love you” sign. No one caught it but me, and I will never forget that moment or the genuine look of joy and contentment on his face. It was the first time either of us had expressed the “L-word” to the other. We had only been dating two weeks, and I was dead-crazy in love with him too.

I was stunned. I was terrified. I was elated. What he didn’t know was just that morning I had woke up thinking about him, as usual, and had come to a startling realization:  I wasn’t just infatuated with this handsome fellow, I was in love with him. THAT VERY SAME MORNING! I went about my day and never said a word about it to anyone (although God and I were having a running conversation about it. “Am I nuts God? This is nuts. I’ve lost it. It’s only been two weeks.” You get the picture). Then that evening, he backs me up me up with his “I love you” sign. American Sign Language has never looked so good my friends.

We left that night and our love story continued. Within another month and a half, we were engaged, then married that summer. People thought we were crazy. There may have even been some bets that it would never last. But not Grandpa and Grandma Kelly – they knew. They believed in love. They believed in us. This weekend, we’ll have been married for sixteen years.

When I left that night, the night of Pictionary and American Sign Language and laughter tears, they both hugged me. Even thought I was a virtual stranger. Even though we had just met. It’s not that I was special – or maybe that’s exactly was it was. You see, they’re like this with everyone. They see the specialness and worth in everyone who walks into their lives, and they always, always see the specialness in each other. They are two people who know the value of building relationships and building families. They’ve been doing it all their lives. They will do it until they pass on into eternity.

I build things for a living – websites, promotional plans, sale catalogs. I love it. However, even more important and vital in my life is following the example that Grandpa and Grandma Kelly set in building their family. My husband’s grandparents have been married over 60 years, and they’re still dead-crazy in love with each other. In another 44 years, we’ll be in their shoes, God-willing. I feel so blessed that the beginnings of our love story played out in their house, at their wooden table playing Pictionary.

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