Miss Monkey, in all her silliness, insisted upon giving me kiss. After kiss. After kiss. Until I'd received 17 kisses from my little angel.
I had witnessed them before. It was last summer, when I was visiting my dying grandma in a cold, barren nursing home in southern Ohio. I had just finished giving her a manicure (a little tradition we had each time I visited her) and was stroking her hand as she dozed off to sleep. Moments later, grandpa shuffled in her room for a visit. He greeted me, but his focus was on his beloved wife. As he rushed to her bedside, he began tenderly kissing her. Kiss. After kiss. After kiss.
I was so in awe of this affection, that I secretely counted those tender kisses. Those sweet 17 kisses.
And I wept.
I wept that their unfailing love was enduring even when a tumor was decimating grandma's mind and body. Wept with sadness that they weren't able to spend their last days together at the home they had shared for nearly 68 years. Wept that my dear, sweet grandma was in such pain and it was tearing our family apart with grief.
I later learned from my mom, that they had always started each day and ended each night with those kisses.
Here is one of my favorite pictures of my loving grandparents. I have this on my dresser and look at it every morning and every night. And I fondly remember those 17 kisses.