This past weekend I had the pleasure and honor of celebrating the 80th surprise birthday of my paternal grandfather, Colonel John F. Ferrick.
It was a weekend of family and heritage and my spirit is full of the time spent with loved ones during the whirlwind trip.
As our family (immediate family only was about 27 of us) lounged by the pool, tended to babies, recalculated plan after plan, set playlists for the party, and generally just enjoyed each other, one story in particular surfaced again and again.
His wife, my grandmother and his Commanding Officer (his words; not mine), had spent more than a year orchestrating this beautiful birthday weekend.
In May of last year her plans for a wonderful surprise almost caught fire.
Although they have many shared assets as a married couple the two still hold separate checking accounts.
Upon mistake, my grandfather had opened her mailed bank statement and saw the charge for the deposit on the banquet room.
From a generation of scrupulous money spenders and savers (rightfully so) he approached her about this generous charge with something along the lines of, “what in the world!?”
My grandmother, feeling like she needed to say something, said, “Now, Jack, just be careful or you might ruin something very special.”
And then, with the wisdom and maturity of 58 years of marriage; he totally and completely forgot about the conversation.
Without going into specifics, or defending herself, my grandfather trusted her enough and respected her enough and loved her enough to simply let it go. Nothing more, nothing less.
And that is beautiful to me.
When he was reminded of that story this past weekend, he recalled that he did truly forget about that interaction entirely and replied that he was completely and utterly surprised when he noticed that the large crowd enjoying drinks by the pool Saturday morning were his children, “adopted children,” nieces, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
My grandfather is not a forgetful nor careless man.
He chose to forget that moment because he decided, for the who-knows-what-time in their marriage, to give my grandmother the benefit of the doubt.
It was a deliberate decision.
How can we today give our spouses the benefit of the doubt?
How can we take them at their word even if we don’t understand their actions?
What in their past can we choose to forget?
What can we decide to let go?