From Our Teen Readers
April 13, 2015 12:00 pm

Last summer, I found myself sitting in the crowded living room of my new step-grandma’s house, surrounded by the family I had grown up with and the new family I had never met before.

My grandpa, at 80-years-old, had just gotten remarried. My grandpa’s new wife was Columbian, as was her entire family; they alternated between heavily-accented English when speaking with my family and rapid-fire Spanish when talking to each other. I was flustered at the wedding reception: While my father, who is practically fluent in Spanish after studying it throughout high school, conversed easily with our new family, I struggled to find my place amidst the chaotic conversations and flurry of strangers who greeted me with hugs and kisses on the cheek. I found their unsolicited warmness strange and I didn’t know how to react.

Granted, the whole situation was fairly strange; I personally don’t know of any other recently married 80-year-olds. But in the months following their wedding, I have been able to become more aware and appreciative of the love between my grandpa and his new wife. I’ve also learned a lot from watching their love.

They have taught me that love can heal heartbreak.

After my grandma’s death several years ago, my grandpa was no longer the warm and funny man I grew up with. He grew bitter and unhappy, and he stopped taking care of himself. My family tried to nudge him in a healthier direction, but it wasn’t until he met his now-wife that he became truly happy again. There are few things better than seeing a loved one who has been in pain find joy again.

They have taught me to seek adventure.

My grandpa and his wife have been to Alaska, Columbia (twice), and various places around the country in the short year and half that they have known each other. Their travels have inspired me to pursue adventure relentlessly, and I have learned that adventure is even more rewarding when shared with someone you love. I cannot wait for the day that I meet the person I will share the rest of my adventures with.

They have taught me the importance of not only loving your partner, but also liking them.

My family first heard about his now-wife (who, at the time, was just his “special friend”) almost two years ago. He told us that he and his special friend would go see plays, play cards, and go out to dinner with other friends. My family would always tease my grandpa about having a crush on her, but my grandpa continued to call her his special friend, even after she spent Easter with our family.

Even though my grandpa eventually realized that he wanted to be more than just friends, I believe their friendship is the foundation of their relationship. They like spending time with each other and teasing each other and getting together with other friends. They liked each other long before they loved each other and because of this, they are not just husband and wife; they are best friends.

Finally, they have taught me that love is weird, crazy, confusing and scary, and that this is what makes it perfect.

My grandpa speaks practically no Spanish, and my step-grandma is far from being fluent in English; sometimes they just don’t know what the other is saying. Instead of getting frustrated or arguing, they simply laugh it off and move on to something else. My step-grandma is outgoing, spontaneous, and wildly hilarious, and yet she is somehow the perfect match to my grandpa’s organized attitude and calmly opinionated demeanor.

My grandpa and step-grandma are constantly learning from each other, and I love catching the moments when my grandpa will just stop and smile at her in the middle of a conversation. I am in awe of the respect and love they have for each other, and I look forward to watching their relationship grow. I also look forward to our next family reunion, as I have been taking Spanish classes and am guaranteed an opportunity to test my new Spanish-speaking skills the next time we are all together.

A few months before she and my grandpa got married, my step-grandma shared her outlook on life: “I want to always enjoy and experience my life because it is short and I have no time to wait.” I believe that this sentiment, while simple, is truly wise and can inspire people of every age to embrace life and all of the love and adventure that can be found within it.

Lizzie Likness loves blankets, dinosaurs, vegan desserts, and Wes Anderson. She is currently a junior in high school and aspires to work in film or photojournalism.

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