One week after we married, all those years ago, my husband, John, had one dozen long-stemmed red roses delivered to me just an hour before he came home from work. He wanted to mark our anniversary. This was the first time that I had ever received roses and it made tears come to my eyes. Then my eyes swelled and my nose started running. Then, I could feel the skin on my face and neck burning and looked into the mirror to see big hives bursting out all over. By the time John got home my throat had started to swell and we thought a trip to the hospital emergency room was in order. However, a dose of Benadryl and removal of the flowers to the back porch took care of the crisis. Apparently, I was allergic to roses. John was crestfallen and I was miserable though the thought behind the gift had been lovely.
For our one month anniversary, John had the same florist deliver a gorgeous potted plant with a small card attached reminding me that he loved me. I placed the plant on a small table in front of our large living room window where it would be the first thing that anyone entering the room would see. I was so proud and my tender feelings of gratitude for my wonderful husband grew. Then, I noticed that small brown things were falling off the green leaves. What could it be? Bugs! The underside of the leaf that it fell from was covered with them. Filled with terror, I swiped that plant off my beautiful table and plopped it onto the back porch. Again, my poor hubby was thwarted in the romance department.
By this time, John was ready to give up on romance. I tried to convey how much his attempts meant to me, but he was feeling like a failure. We hugged, and …. well, the rest of my efforts to soothe him are private, but I’m certain that you get the point. Romance is important in any loving relationship, is it not? John had hit a 10 on the romance meter two months before we wed and he wanted to try to top it or at least equal it for these milestones when he realized how much joy it brought his new wife, but things were not working out. What had he done to reach the pinnacle of success before?
Early in our relationship, John had expressed an opinion about a friend’s ex-wife who had demanded a large diamond engagement ring. When the marriage ended, she was particular about her desire to keep that ring. What this woman did not know was that her husband had picked out a cubic zirconium because he couldn’t afford the real thing. This left a bad impression on John, so he told me that he would NOT spend money on a fancy ring. Two months before we were married I pulled him into a local jewelry store and showed him the wedding set that I coveted. In all our years together, it was the closest that he ever came being disappointed in me. I got over it as he had been clear how he felt about making such a purchase. Two months later, on April 25, 1980, he slipped a ring on my finger. Then he held my finger and started shaking it as the ceremony continued. He kept it up and it was starting to irritate me. Then I looked down. Instead of the plain gold band that I’d paid $2.00 for at a discount store, IT WAS THE RING!!! It was a good thing that Reverend Love at Love’s Chapel in Lake Tahoe, Nevada had probably seen and heard most everything as I squealed and grabbed my almost-husband in a tight hug before he could pronounce us man and wife. Yes, the romantic pole had been set rather high.
Over the years there have been many moments between us that pull at my heart strings when they are recalled to mind. Well thought-out gifts, tender expressions of love and concern, fidelity, loyalty, care and respect have been a constant part of our relationship. Is this not the type of romantic hero that we all enjoy reading about? Isn’t this the kind of husband that you imagine Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy would be to his Elizabeth? It is exactly the kind of man that I married.
So, would John need to grab one of those tacky red boxes off the shelf of our local discount store? Would he give me a card that has a cat with BIG lips puckered for a smooch on the front and hearts floating randomly above those lips? Would he wait until the last minute in a frantic scramble to keep the peace by providing a gift offering of red and pink tulips? No! Why? Because romance is much, much more than just one day a year.
So, think of what your expectations and hopes are for February 14th. I am absolutely convinced that the store hopes and expects that the displays of the candy, cards, and flowers will be cleared before the end of that business day. Undoubtedly, none of it will find its way into my house. If you do celebrate this holiday, I hope that all of your personal expectations are met. If not, remember the words from Nicholas Spark’s book, The Notebook, where he says,