Last April, my great grandpa passed away. He lived for his pride and joy, my sweet and generous great grandma. They decided to get married at just a young 18 and 14 years old in Bakersfield, California. They spent a blissful 72 years together until she got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and passed away. I visited them most of my entire childhood. I remember long car rides to visit them at their charming one story home. White paint, colorful flowers, and a treehouse swing are immediately what I think of when someone mentions little ol’ Bakersfield. Their fragile bodies welcomed us with shaking open arms and smiley face cookies from Smith’s Bakery down the road. Although they didn’t own much, they carried extreme pride in what they did possess—a lesson I am so grateful I learned from them. Once my mom complimented Nana’s blouse and she immediately exclaimed, “Oh please Shana, take it! It takes ten minutes to stop by TJ Maxx… I’ll go change right now!” The woman would literally (try to) give the shirt off her back. When it became bed time, for them just an early 7:00, we found them cuddling like puzzle pieces in the family room. I’ve always admired their love and I won’t settle until I find my puzzle piece. Even after 72 years, their love never became jaded. They never got over the “honeymoon” phase that most people declare exists. They bickered, as all people do, but they bickered with passion and love. My sister and I always bickered about who got to sit between them during their signature breakfast. The aroma of fresh biscuits would fill the house, and if you followed it, it would lead you to an American breakfast. Apricot jam fresh from the market, scrambled eggs, warm biscuits, home-made cinnamon rolls, and freshly squeezed orange juice cladded the table. With all that delicious food, the best part was still the company. The best times I spent in that love-filled home were when I could spend time with all my loved ones. My mom, dad, older sister, two cousins, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, and the two love birds all somehow fit in the small three-bedroom home. We would all cram around the tiny table, but to us the discomfort did not matter. Being surrounded by people that unconditionally love you brings a feeling of sheer happiness and security. A day doesn’t exist that I don’t miss those big moments at the small table. This all leads to my favorite old image. Breakfast, smiles, my family, and most importantly love all surrounding the old dining table on a sunny Sunday morning in Bakersfield, California. This picture may be a decade old, faded with water stains, and even a date on the bottom right corner, but I can never forget the feeling…or the smell of those warm biscuits.

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