I posted something very personal on Valentine's Day last year, and judging by the e-mail I received for a couple of weeks afterwards, it touched a lot of hearts. I've gained quite a few blog-readers in the past twelve months, so I've decided to run the piece again. This time, however, I'm posting it on the day before Valentine's Day, in the hope that it will encourage you to consider penning an old-fashioned love letter or poem to that special person in your life.
I write romance, so you're probably expecting me to post something touchy-feely for Valentine's Day.
All right. I'll tell you about my husband of almost 30 years.
He has always been a thoughtful and romantic gift-giver. Never in our years together have I told him what I wanted for my birthday. I have never hinted that I would like this or that for Christmas. So how does he come up with the perfect gift every time?
It's a mystery to me. I guess he just watches me and makes mental notes on the things that seem to interest me.
When I decided I liked bone-china teacups and brought home three from an antique store, he gave me a teapot and started surprising me with additions to my collection. When I became interested in calligraphy, he bought me a beautiful fountain pen. He can tell you that my favorite flowers are roses, my favorite chocolate is Godiva, I like anything that comes in the shape of a heart, and that I'm crazy in love with Crabtree & Evelyn's floral-scented soaps and candles and colognes.
He gives me jewelry, like the tanzanite and diamond earrings he surprised me with this past Christmas, and he gives me things I didn't even realize I wanted, like the Amish-made cherrywood blanket chest he gave me last Christmas. And he'll give me a Hallmark card only when he is unable to find a clever, handmade one. (The photo above is the Valentine's card he gave me last year.)
He has never given me a household appliance or a set of new tires for my birthday, not even when we desperately needed those things. Even in the very lean years, there was always some special, personal, "girly" gift just for me. And he frequently brings me little treats for no reason at all: a CD of Celtic music, a handful of individually-wrapped Lindor chocolate truffles, a bottle of rose-scented Italian ink for my fountain pens.
But lots of guys have romantic streaks; that doesn't necessarily make them good husband material. So if you're a lady who's thinking about marrying, I'd advise you to look past the "romantic" stuff and consider whether your guy is offering you real, solid, I'm-right-here-and-I'm-not-going-anywhere love.
Let me give you an example of that kind of love.
When our boys were little, it was common for me to awaken in the night to sounds of retching in their bathroom. I would scramble out of bed, concerned and ready to do my motherly duty, but when I'd get to the bathroom I'd find my husband already on the job, sitting with a sick kid on the side of the tub. "It's under control," he'd say as he stripped soiled jammies off our son. "Go back to bed."
He didn't do it just once. He didn't do it a dozen times. He did every time. As I'd stand in the doorway trying not to gag on the stench of our child's vomit, my husband would say, "Just go back to bed. I'll put his sheets in the washer, and then I'll sit with him until he falls asleep."
That, people, is real love. My friends have often said they envy me for all the hearts and flowers I get, but they're missing the big picture. If they're going to envy me, I wish they'd do it because my husband is the kind of man who was willing to sit on the side of a cold bathtub in the middle of the night, dampening washcloths and murmuring soothing words as his kids tossed their cookies.
I wish every single woman out there would consider this example of true love before she plights her troth to the first man who gives her red roses on Valentine's Day. And before she rejects a good man just because he doesn't.