You’re My Butter Half Mural {Austin}

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I’ve been typing out my love story the past year or so here on my site. Sharing chapter by chapter about how I met and dated my husband. It’s a complicated love story, but it’s mine and I love it. Everyone loves to hear a good love story. We all like the stories of the beginnings, the butterflies, and the new-ness of love. But those of us who have lived just a little bit of life beyond the courtship and marriage celebration, know that that is just the beginning of a true love story.

My grandparents turn 90 this year. They celebrate 67 years of marriage.  We realize it’s a true blessing that they’ve lived this long, together.

You're My Butter Half by

married 67 years

In a recent visit, I asked them questions about their lives, and had out a laptop typing every word. They told so many stories I hadn’t heard before. Or maybe I wasn’t listening then. 

I’d always known that my grandma lost her mother when she was 17. I had heard it was from a disease from a tick bite. But what I didn’t know is that her mother was doing one of her chores when she got that tick bite. That she sent grandma off to a friend’s house for a party and was covering for her. Never knew that my grandma always saw her mother’s death as partly her fault–because she was doing her chores when she got the tick. That broke my heart.

Two weeks after her mother died, her appendix ruptured, but they couldn’t afford medical attention, so she just laid in bed for weeks. Her insides had so much scar tissue that doctors said she could never have children. Fortunately, a doctor fought for her, painfully scraped that tissue away, and she was able to carry both my mother and her sister, before needing a hysterectomy in her early 30’s.

I never even knew that my grandmother’s very first job out of high school was priming bombs in an artillery for World War II. Grandma was a bomb maker. My sweet, quiet, meek, gentle Grams.

Grandpa is the boisterous one of the two. Since I was a little girl up until now, he’d wrap his arm around me, kiss my cheek, and tell me how proud he was of me. Since the age of 11, he’s lived his life with a limp from a horse sitting on his foot, and crushing it. A doctor back in the 1930’s thought it should be amputated, but his mother wouldn’t have it. He was deemed incapable of fighting in World War II. A deep sorrow for him at the time, but a blessing for us, his posterity. He’s never let that stop him from living a full life.

They met when they were 22, and were set up as dance partners for a church function. Together, they learned the Jitterbug, Lindy Hop, Rumba, & Swing. They competed together, and of the 8 couples that were set up as partners that day, 4 of them eventually married.

wedding day

 {circa 1946}

Since the church records of my grandfather were lost, they couldn’t have a church temple wedding. Only engaged a month, they opted for the county courthouse with just two witnesses, and had a temple sealing a year later.

They bought their first house in 1950 for $5,800 and sold it 30 years later for quite a healthy sum. They’ve always been financially comfortable, but never extravagant. They are after all, children of the Depression. 

Their married life has been filled with happiness and challenges, Grandma twice with cancer, and Grandpa once. They watched each of their daughters lose a child. They’ve served in church assignments, but their greatest church calling was to work in the Mormon Ogden Utah Temple for 25 years. They said that is what kept them young and active. They loved it so much, and have missed it fiercely the past 2 years. They also feel strongly that having hobbies, something just for themselves, kept their interest in living and enjoying life.

In watching them throughout the years, and more closely the last few, I see how much they adore each other. They know how rare it is for them both to have lived this long.

I wish I could have seen them when they’d been married 15 years like me–to have a glimpse of their lives in the thick of things, the good, the bad, the chaotic, and the everything in between that I’m experiencing now. To see them be parents to young children, to teenagers, to have differences with each other and their kids. I imagine they’ve wept in prayer over a child. I’ll assume that they had marital disagreements that left them frustrated for days. Did they give each other the cold shoulder when they disagreed? Surely, it wasn’t always so blissful.

But those are the moments that are long forgotten. Hard work, love and patience won out.  Work. It takes work on both parties for a marriage to survive. Both have to be committed, both have to want it to succeed. My grandparents grew up in a time that if something is broken, you fix it . . .  not throw it away. My generation doesn’t seem to get it.

love endures


I hear so often in broken marriages that people just grow apart . . . or fall out of love. Life is busy with kids and emotions run high as we try to keep fulfilled as individuals, while still considering the needs of our spouse.

Love changes; love grows.

It’s not just a feeling. Love is action.

Love is service.

Love is consideration. It takes nurturing.

My grandparents have shown me that we can’t build a life of a happy relationship based on the initial feelings in courtship. It’s a springboard, for sure, but it’s not expected to sustain us solely.  Love is not something simply discovered, but developed over time as  life’s challenges are met together.

When my grandparents visited me in Texas this past week, I took them around town, and snapped pictures of them with my kids in various tourist locations, but this one is my favorite.

This mural describes them perfectly. I’ll treasure this image, because it’s a testament to their love. They always saw the other as their better half.

You're My Butter Half by Kristen Duke

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{This wall mural is found in Austin, Texas at 2000 E. MLK Blvd}

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