Saturday, February 13, 2016

What really says love? You’d be surprised

Sunday is Valentine’s Day, that day when you are expected to clearly demonstrate how much you love someone. I wonder. Does that day still matter when you’re with the same person for a hundred years? Fine, 35 years then.

Spouse and I have been together for 35 Valentine’s Days. Some have been wonderfully romantic (flowers, gifts, a nice dinner) and some have been…. less so (like the year he gave me a Valentine cactus).  But the most memorable was the time he presented me with a raised toilet seat.

The year 2008 had a rough start while I was just beginning recovery from a Leukemia diagnosis and treatment. That 14th of February I was home in between rounds of chemo. I was extremely weak from being bedridden for weeks and I needed many gadgets - among them a wheelchair, a walker, and a shower seat - to help manage every day routines we take for granted.

It’s funny what we consider a sign of true love. That toilet seat was the best gift ever and the most thoughtful as far as I was concerned. Spouse didn’t intend for it to be presented to me on that particular day – it just happened to be delivered right on time. We’ve joked a lot about it but it was to me a true sign of his love.

On a sightseeing trip during our December trek in India celebrating the second marriage ceremony of The Love Couple, a young woman who had noticed the traditional wedding henna on First Born’s hands queried, “Married?” Our glowing daughter said yes with a bright smile. The young woman then noticed The Groom nearby and asked, “Was it a love marriage?” With that same big smile he also replied yes.

I know she was referring to the fact that in India and other countries it is not uncommon for marriages to still be arranged. My mind naturally took it in a different direction.

What is a love marriage? I can only go by my own experience of 30-something years.

A love marriage is one where your significant other agrees with you when you claim it was the fault of the GPS that you are crammed between throngs of aggressive drivers in the middle of the Bronx instead of the directions you swore you set it for.

A love marriage means your partner very considerately sends you a text when he’s on his way home after working really late, even though you’ll probably sleep through the text and not see it until you hear snoring next to you.

A love marriage means when the love of your life says “we” have to take care of something (like getting the tax information together) it really translates to “you” and that’s all right.

It would be a lie to say Spouse and I have always been a splendid example of a love marriage. I’m not convinced you can find a couple that is always a perfect illustration of wedded bliss. But with each anniversary we can look back and say we made it through obstacles, occasional (no, really - just occasional) disagreements and idiosyncrasies we’ve come to accept (not necessarily love, but accept) in each other.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story where the wife claims with frustration that her husband never tells her he loves her, and the husband’s response is something like, “I put oil in your car and changed the spark plugs – if that’s not love I don’t know what is!” Ironic as that story is, it hits the nail on the marital head for me.

It’s always nice to feel special because someone makes the effort to express his or her love. Sometimes you just need to take notice of those seemingly unromantic efforts that are still significant.

Like a raised toilet seat on Valentine’s Day.

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