A Lifetime of Love

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

During my last visit with my grandmother before she passed, I was blessed when she shared with me the story about how she met my grandfather. So I thought that I would share their love story this valentine's Day.

Ed Steinbrecher and Vivian Ryan met when they were both working at the Madison & Bradley Laundry in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1948. Vivian's sister, Lavona was also working at the Laundry. Ed had first attempted to ask Lavona to go out with him, but she had declined the offer. Unable to convince Lavona that he was a great catch he moved his eyes to Vivian. She definitely had her eyes on Ed and the relationship quickly turned from co-workers to lovers.

It was not long before they decided to get married after they discovered that my grandmother was pregnant with my mother. Vivian was only 16 years old at the time and needed to file an affidavit with her parents' permission to get married. At the age of 19, Edwin Allen Steinbrecher married Vivian Joyce Ryan on March 30, 1949, by Elder Chas. L Graham at a church that had been at 736 Ottawa Ave NW in Grand Rapids. The church is no longer there and I have not been able to locate more information about the church yet. From their marriage license, the witnesses of the wedding were my grandmother's grandfather, Warren Walker, and her sister, Lavona Ryan. While one of the reasons for them getting married was due to my grandmother's pregnancy, the fact is that they had a true love for each other. Without true love, it is extremely difficult to live up to the wedding vows.

By 1956 my grandparents had five children which they raise in a 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom house that they purchased at 552 North Ave NE in Grand Rapids for $4,500 in 1953. Their house payment was $50 a month til they paid off their house, which they eventually did. Their three daughters shared one bedroom and the two boys shared the second bedroom. My grandparents slept on the pullout sofa bed until their children moved out leaving an empty bedroom.

The family enjoyed spending time together going on picnics, spending time at the lake, watching tv, and listening to music. They had their first television set in 1954. My grandfather always had control of the television when he was home. To this day I can remember him sitting at the dining room table watching television, smoking his cigarettes and his container of candy my grandmother always made sure was full. Since they did not have much money and at times struggled to keep the electricity on they did not go on many vacations.

They focused their lives on doing whatever they needed to and could to take care of their children. Neither of my grandparents had ever finished high school. For this reason, it was important to them that their five children remained in school until they graduated from high school.

Once their children were grown and began having children of their own they continued to be there for everyone and each other. They were blessed with eight grandchildren and several great-grandchildren that they loved and treasured.

My grandfather loved teasing my grandmother and giving her a hard time once in a while. Most of the time he did it with a smile as her temper rose. He would smile at her when she would tell him that he wasn't too old yet to divorce. Of course, that never happened because he knew when to stop teasing her.

On their 50th wedding anniversary, they renewed their wedding vows to each other. Sharing the exchange of their vow renewal with their children, grandchildren, extended family, and friends.

Their vows to each other remained strong through all the ups and downs that life threw their way until my grandfather passed away on November 8, 2011, separating them after 61 years of marriage. My grandmother continued on in life until her death on September 28, 2018. They are now laid to rest next to each other in Howard City, Michigan.

They will both be remembered for the strength and dedication to their family.

Until next time, take care.