Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Valentine, circa 1938, from the collection of SWMBO’s late Daddy.
On this, the kinda-sorta holiday cum civic occasion that celebrates the idea of Romantic Love, it’s not a bad idea to take a good look at that Noble Institution.
The chocolate and flower crowd - aided and abetted by the restaurant and greeting card industries - like to portray love as that warm, melty emotion indulged in by young, attractive couples (and the occasional cute, wrinkly seniors, provided they look reasonably presentable). A nice dinner out, a bottle of wine, perhaps a handful of all-too-perishable flowers, and we’ve followed the norms of the day, made our obeisance to Eros, AKA Cupid, the little dude with the wings and arrows.
And that’s all fine, as far as it goes. I mean, hell, after 36 years I still get all hot and bothered when I gaze into the deep blue eyes of the Missus. We’re not kids anymore, but she still can make me feel like one. (Plus, we still crack each other up. If that’s not romantic, what is?)
But love - real love - is way, way more than a box of truffles from Russell Stover and two dozen red roses.
Love is what you have left when everything in your daily routine is stripped away from you. Love is what sustains your mind when your body doesn’t want to do what you tell it to do.
Love feeds you, literally and figuratively, even unto bringing your meals to your lips, spoonful by spoonful. Love sits by your bed and watches over you while you sleep. Love makes sure the doctors and therapists are doing everything they can to bring your life back to a semblance of its former self.
Love is what you have when someone says the words “in sickness and in health” and takes them seriously... especially the “in sickness” part, the part that has very little to do with candlelit dinners, or chocolates, or vacations, or cruises. It’s the messy part that the greeting card folks don’t talk about much.
Love is what you have when you’re fortunate enough to have someone in your life that, when put to the test, puts on the Big Girl Panties (or the Big Boy Pants) and does what must be done.
I have never doubted that that’s the kind of love She Who Must Be Obeyed and I share. And that is most certainly the kind of love Eli (hizzownself) and Toni share, for I have seen evidence of it every single day since Christmas morning last.
That’s one tough, hard-ass Valentine, the Genuine Article. The wine and candles will have to wait; there’s work to be done. Love-work.
Listen: Today is Valentine’s Day, and I will celebrate it with my own Valentine. We’ll enjoy a nice dinner, a glass or two of wine. Flowers may, indeed, come into play. Huggage and kissage may even take place, if I’m lucky. But in the back of my mind, I will be thinking of Eli and Toni... and the kind of love you don’t see in the Hallmark store.