My grandparents were married over 50 years and played their own special game from the time they met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word "SHMILY" in a surprise place for the other to find.

They took turns leaving "SHMILY" around the house and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more. They dragged "SHMILY" with their fingers through the sugar flour containers, to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows.

"SHMILY" was written on the steamed mirror, after a hot shower, and would reappear bath after bath. At one point my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper, to leave "SHMILY" on the very last sheet. There were no end to where the word "SHMILY" would pop up. Little notes on steering wheels, dashboards, car-seats, stuffed inside shoes, left under pillows. "SHMILY" was written in the dust upon the mantle, traced in the ashes of a fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents house as the furniture. It took me a long time before I was fully able to appreciate my grandparent's game.

Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love ... one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted their relationship, they had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little game, it was a way of life. Their love was based on devotion and passionate affection, which very few ever find. Grandpa & Grandma held hands every chance they could, stole little kisses as they passed each other in the house, finished each other's sentences, and shared the same daily crossword puzzles. She would whisper to me how "cute" my grandpa was, how handsome he had gotten as he grew older. She claimed that she really knew "how to pick 'em".

Before every meal they would hold hands and bow their heads and thank God for their meal, blessings, wonderful family, good fortune, and each other. But Grandma had breast cancer for 10 years. Grandpa was with her every step of the way, loving and comforting her. It was now attacking her body again. With the help of a cane and my grandfather's steady hand, they went to church every morning. Grandma grew increasingly weaker until finally, she could not leave the house any longer. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife.

Then one day, she was finally gone. "SHMILY". It was scrawled on her ribbons of the funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned out and only family was gathered around Grandma for the last time, Grandpa stepped up to the casket and in a shaky voice began to sing to her, a deep throaty lullaby. With tears in my eyes (I know I will never forget that moment) I knew, although I couldn't fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.


See How Much I Love You

Laura Jeanne Allen

SHMILY was written by Ms. Allen about her grandparents, Alice and Anthony McAndrews of Rochester, NY, USA