Several weeks ago I attended a presentation of "Good Night Gracie" at a theater downtown. I go to these shows/plays every couple of months with a group of my friends and always look forward to what's coming up next. I honestly wasn't excited about seeing this one though for several reasons. I knew who George Burns was, but I was only familiar with him from a few of his later movies. I knew he was married to Gracie Allen, but their television show went off years before I was born. I don't think I've ever even seen a rerun of it anywhere. Although I remembered thinking Burns was very funny when I saw him on television or in a movie, I wasn't sure how funny the person portraying him would be. The main reason though was that it was a one-man show, and I just didn't think one person talking for two hours would be that entertaining.
I couldn't have been more wrong about the show. The person portraying George Burns did an outstanding job. He had his looks, speech, and mannerisms down perfectly. After a short time it was as if we were actually watching Burns. He told the story of his life from the time of his childhood until his death. There were parts of recordings from his radio shows played over the speakers and clips from his television show shown on a large screen which added to the performance. Throughout the show the one thing that came across clearly was George Burns' love for Gracie Allen. Even though it wasn't actually Burns talking, I could see, hear, and feel how much he loved Gracie. He loved her from the time they met and continued to love her long after her death, until the day he died. At one point in the show George was sitting on a bench in the cemetery talking to Gracie - fifteen years after she had died. He said he visited her every week to let her know how he was doing and to tell her what was going on his life. I understood perfectly what he was doing and why. Even though I don't go every week, I do go to the cemetery to talk to Eddie. I tell him what I'm doing and what's going on with Trey and Emily. Sometimes I even take pictures of Emily to show to him so he can see her growing up.
After the show I thought a lot about how special it would be to have a love like that. I wondered if I personally knew anyone who had experienced that kind of love. One couple came to mind - my grandparents - Memaw and Papa. They were married for 58 years, and although my grandfather died in 1992, my grandmother still loves him today. I know their marriage wasn't perfect or easy (no one's is). They lived through the Depression and raised five children on a preacher's salary. They added a second income much later when my grandmother began teaching. They had their ups and downs just like everyone else, but they worked them out together, and they NEVER gave up. When my grandmother talks about my grandfather, it's obvious how much she still loves him - just like when George talked about Gracie. When she tells stories about their life she always calls him "Daddy" or "Papa", and to this day she still wears her wedding ring, a symbol of their eternal love.
I realize that, unfortunately, very few people get to experience that kind of love in their lifetime. I loved Eddie, and I know he loved me, but I'm not sure it was that kind of love. I am thankful my grandparents were able to have it - they deserved it more than anyone I know. I am also thankful that I was able to see it for part of my life and to continue knowing about it today through my grandmother. Memaw and Papa are shining examples of what true love is - just like George and Gracie.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7