Broken and Beautiful

I wrote this post four years ago about my Pappy and Nanny… seems fitting to share it again. Friends for 83 years, married for over 70. I’ve since heard even more stories… what a gift God gave this world in them!

“It’s been a great life.”

He said it at least 4 times in the course of our conversation. My Pappy sat with his paralyzed leg and arm, oxygen tube in his nose, 85 years of age revealed on lines and spots and wrinkles in his face. My Nanny next to him, her once gorgeous complexion finally starting to show its age.

We sat with them for a few hours as they recounted stories of their life together.

They met in first grade. You do the math.

They’ve been friends for 79 years.

79 years.

What a life…

I heard so much brokenness.

–WWII, an injury and a capture and rescue.
–the loss of Pappy’s mother to bone cancer while he was in Italy for the war.
–the death of Pappy’s father years later who never recovered from losing his wife. He wandered off in a depression only for them to find his bones 11 months later in the mountains.
–the miscarriage and the stillbirth of children that still makes Nanny cry.
–Nanny finding her father face down in the bathroom, victim of a fatal heart attack.
–Pappy’s heart attacks and strokes and disabilities.
–the confusion of dementia and the fatigue of life in old age.

But I also heard beauty.

–the memories from childhood playing with siblings, first jobs, friendships.
–the lighting up of Nanny’s face as she described the blue chiffon dress she wore to their senior high dinner.
–the shaking of Pappy’s head as Nanny told how he ditched her to ride home on the bus with another girl.
–the joy of each child they bore into the world.. my mother and her brothers
–the strength of waiting and working during the war knowing her husband was a POW, but clinging to hope.
–their work…naval supply depot, barbershop, and postmistress of the town
–the descriptive beauty of their gardens full of flowers and vegetables.
–the holiday memories.
–the patting his Bible that sits next to his chair. “I read it every morning.”

I heard life.

Broken and beautiful.

I look at them and I know they are not long in this world. I know they do not long for this world. I know they dream about life together in the next whole and well and full of God.

He smiled and said again, “It’s been a great life. I’m ready to go but I’d like to stay here for a bit, too.”

I sat this morning and listened to this song and cried.

And all I could think about was them…

They lived it well.

Dream by Priscilla Ahn (click the red link to listen)

I was a little girl
Alone in my little world
Who dreamed of a little home for me
I played pretend between the trees
And fed my houseguests bark and leaves
And laughed in my pretty bed of green

I had a dream
That I could fly
From the highest swing
I had a dream

Long walks in the dark
Through woods grown behind the park
I asked God who I’m supposed to be
The stars smiled down at me
God answered in silent reverie
I said a prayer and fell asleep

I had a dream
That I could fly
From the highest tree
I had a dream


Now I’m old and feeling gray
I don’t know what’s left to say
About this life I’m willing to leave
I lived it full, I lived it well
As many tales I live to tell
I’m ready now, I’m ready now
I’m ready now
To fly from the highest wing
I had a dream.

(Priscilla Ahn, “Dream”)

One response to “Broken and Beautiful”

  1. Stunning beauty here, Angie, both in your words and in their lives. Only God can take all this brokenness and make beauty out of it. Love you, dear one.


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