I grew up with a father that was sociopathic on his best days and psychopathic the rest of the time. Being at home with him was a miserable, miserable existence. I think God, in his mercy, compensated me by giving me the most wonderful grandparents that ever walked the earth.
Leonard and Loretta fell in love in high school and ran away to get married in 1943, just before Leonard was drafted into the marine corps at the tail end of WWII. They eventually had six children, the oldest of which was my father. In 1962 I came along as the first of what would eventually be 16 grandchildren. Their farm was my sanctuary whenever my dad went on one of his rampages. I loved it there, never a harsh word, never a hand raised in anger, and as much laughter as your gut could handle. THAT was how a marriage should be, that is what a HOME really is. About five years ago my Grandfather passed away from a stroke. My Grandmother, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer's when he died, followed about three years later..At the end she had forgotten all sixteen of us grandkids, she even failed to recognize her six children, but she never stopped looking for my grandpa. Right up to the end. In fact, I'm pretty sure the last word she ever spoke was "Leonard", I know it was the last word I ever heard her say aloud.
The Notebook, in all it's sappy glory, took me back to that farm, if only for an hour or two, and reminded me that happily ever after isn't always just in storybooks and screenplays - its elusive, its rare and its possible.