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You Made My Life…

I love a good love story, and I don’t think there is a better love story than my grandparents’ love story.

In high school my grandfather, Bob Harper, had a crush on my grandmother, Sally Lofgren, but because he was so terribly shy he couldn’t do a thing about it.

So my grandfather’s best friend, George McCoy, locked him in the basement and refused to let him out until my grandfather called and asked my grandmother out.

And that one phone call was the spark that created all of this…

I have always believed that my grandparents’ relationship was a good example of what a relationship should and could be, so before Arann and I got married in 2009 I asked my grandfather to share his thoughts on the secret to a good marriage. This is the message he sent to us:

I’m not an expert on marriage, but I’ve had a lot of experience. Sally and I have been married almost 65 years. So, what’s the answer:

Marry early.

Have good genes.

Take advantage of high-tech medical care.

Sleep in the same bed.

AND

Sexual attraction may be the starting point, but it’s not the name of the game.

“If’ it’s only sex,” as the words go in the song; Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, “we all lose our charms in the end.” The hormones cease to rush.

The real game is a version of the Golden Rule: Do unto your spouse as you would have him or her do unto you.

When you say “I do,” you really become one; you are equal; you are no longer ‘me’, you’re us! You’re a team. 1 plus 1 = us.

In a marriage, no one’s the boss. You share the ups, the downs, family decisions, chores, what needs to be done.

You see Sally and me as old folks, but I can tell you, to me, Sally is more beautiful than when we married because I’ve learned who she really is – what a wonderful person she is.

She’s been my best friend for all these years.

She was my mysterious lover when we started; over the years I’ve learned to know what a lovely individual she is – and she’s my loyal roommate. I’m with her from morning to night and love it.

I’ve been blessed to spend most of my waking days for the past 65 years with my best friend – she’s my wife; I’m her husband. I can’t imagine life without her.

The secret of marriage is feeling that way about your spouse – and having her feel that way about you.

Today, September 26th 2011, my grandmother, Sally Ann Harper, passed away… just two days before their 67th wedding anniversary.

My grandfather’s last words to her, “You made my life.”

About the author paige green

Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.

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35 Comments

  1. totally sobbing and so happy for them and their love and the rich life they led at the same time.

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  2. I am crying now, such a sweet tribute, they were lucky to have had such a great life.

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  3. What a beautiful story, and the secret recipe for a lifelong wonderful marriage/relationship is so relevant — to you and your recent marriage, to me, to many others… Thank you for sharing, and know that I was very touched by this.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this extraordinary story. All the best to you.

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  5. Sorry for your loss, but how lucky they were…

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  6. A wonderful romance well told, I’m so lucky to be in a family with so much love and the ability to share it.

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  7. Beautiful. And so inspiring. Just took a moment (between sobs) to tell my husband what he means to me. Thank you for the reminder.

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  8. My condolences to you Paige – your beautiful tribute and your grandfathers words made me cry

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  9. Thanks for sharing this amazing story and all of the photos. So sorry for your loss and I hope that this post has brought some comfort to you in this time.

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  10. Paige, I loved it. Thanks for sharing the letter. It made some happiness creep into my sad heart. What wonderful role models your grandparents have been to so many people.

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  11. Paige, This is a truly beautiful story. I’m also totally sobbing. I am so sorry for your tremendous loss. Sending you, your family, and especially your grandfather so much love. Let me know if there’s anything we can do. Love, Dakota

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  12. So so sweet. Thank you for sharing this love story! How inspiring. Makes me want to love more.

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  13. Wow, so wonderful. You are on my mind and in my heart!

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  14. Paige, this is such a beautiful story of their lives together! I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this.

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  15. Paige, so sad to hear this and condolences to you and your family. May we each be so lucky to love and be loved so thoroughly. My thoughts are with you all.

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  16. A beautiful story Paige………..thank you.

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  17. OH Paige…what a beautiful tribute to your grandparents…I am so sorry for your loss.

    LOVE being sent your way….xoxo Terri

    ps…the photo of them on the beach, arm in arm, boggie board in tow and her looking awesome in her swim suit made me smile through the tears!

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  18. Such a lovely tribute to an amazing, inspiring love. Your baby boy will be thankful for this beautiful post. xo

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  19. Paige- I’m so grateful for your beautiful telling of my Sister’s wonderful life with the Love of her life. Thanks for your loving sensitivity.

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  20. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing and double thanks for telling it in such a beautiful way. You inspire me. Hope you are well 🙂

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  21. […] after my most favorite grandparents, who taught me the importance and value of […]

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  22. such a lovely story…left me sobbing in tears, and i don’t even know you! not much faith in love these days, and yet your grandfather’s sweet words and the beautiful love story between them gave me hope and a lot of inspiration! thanks for sharing…truly sorry for your loss.

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  23. What a beautiful love story. I am so moved. My love goes out to your grandpa.

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  24. i’m really quite speechless, but so very happy you spelled this out for all of us.

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  25. I saw the picture in the New York Times just now and was deeply touched by your grandfather’s parting words to his wife. Thank you.

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  26. Paige:
    Astounding I even saw this! This is Julia Pickett (Williams) and we are second cousins even though we have never met! My mother and your grandfather are sister and brother!
    Congratulations on having a baby of your own!
    Julia

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  27. A very beautiful story

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  28. […] York Times magazine, for the feature The Lives They Loved.  It seems like the perfect tribute for a love story that started in high school newspaper class 71 years […]

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  29. I am now crying. Thank you for sharing. What a lovely story…

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  30. This is so darn sweet! What a beautiful story. May she rest in peace.

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  31. Lovely story; thank you for sharing it. My first time seeing your work. I’ll be sure to visit again.

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  32. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

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  33. Saskia N. Schaefer March 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    So sweet! What a beautiful tribute and story. Made me cry. Thank you for capturing some of the richness of life and sharing it with the all of us in such a lovely way.

    Reply

  34. […] York Times magazine, for the feature The Lives They Loved.  It seems like the perfect tribute for a love story that started in high school newspaper class 71 years […]

    Reply

  35. great photos and beautiful story. wow!!!!

    Reply

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