It was Valentine’s Day 1977. I remember some of his words. “The seeds of love have been planted….” is how it started and ended with a marriage proposal. I don’t remember the specifics after the first few words because I was thinking how corny it sounded. I was scared. I was uncomfortable with love.
What does a 19-year-old know of love, romantic love, when she can’t recall seeing her parents show affection. The one time I remember seeing my dad come from behind to give my mom a hug while she was cooking her faced showed some kind of delight but she wriggled away as if she were uncomfortable. I must have been about 12. I don’t remember seeing them hold hands or share looks. Maybe it was there. Children don’t often pay attention to that. But I don’t think so.
Daddy was always free with hugs for me. Not an issue but he became very fearful as I got older and started dating. His discomfort with my maturity was noticeable. They were divorced by then. He was vigilant in setting strict curfews and not allowing me to go to things like dances. (Boys and who knows what else?)
How does one know how to be loved when love was about fear?
I see it now but I didn’t when I stood there as Henry was talking to me from his heart. I don’t know if he has any idea how nervous I was. Even now. Though scared, I said yes. It was something between me and God. And I said yes.
I have been learning about love ever since. Not always a good student. Moments of awkward discomfort have crept in during the learning. Trust had to be given; patience his gift to me. Learning together. This is the way of love.
Stars and hearts. They have found their way in our homes for years. Just shapes I’m drawn to like being drawn to clean lines and no clutter. Some have special memories but most just a sweet beauty that brings a curl to the edges of my mouth.
Valentine’s is coming and part of me isn’t a fan. A friend calls it the forced day of showing love or something like that. I get his point. I don’t need Hallmark to tell me I should share that love with another…..Do I?
Henry and I say those words to each other daily. Mean it, try to show it. I could do better. We say those words to our children often, to our parents. Henry’s 83-year-old mother calls him every Monday and I sometimes hear him as the conversation ends, “I love you mama.” (He got the mama from me. I love it!) I admit, the cards are a nice extra on this day of forced affection 😉
I say people see what they want to see. Maybe you won’t see the heart shape in the edge of the milk glass plate or the shells, but I do. I hope you’ll see love somewhere, know love. The romantic love that makes the pulse quicken, the love of a friend you know you can call anytime of day or night. Mostly, the love of God whose love is perfect and without condition. The Love who looks past our faults and cheap imitation of love and shows us a love we’ve never and will never know from another.
We were married. We were young. It was fast. I was scared. He was the one. Still the one. We’re not young. Life moves faster. He calms my fears. He’s the one.
I could leave it at that. Leave you wondering. Filling in the blanks with your imagination of all sorts of things. Really, it’s not that exciting. Except, every love story has its sparks.
Our first date was December 30, 1976. Henry’s 24th birthday. I was 19.(I’m not a first date remembering kind of person but being it was his birthday it’s easy and he can kid himself that I remember the date of our first date.) We had known each other from church for a few years but the timing wasn’t right.
Six weeks later, on Valentine’s Day, he proposed. I was struck with fright. Not surprised but scared. And not knowing that everyone has some fear. This is big. If we do this right we’ll do it better than my parents and 50+ % of Americans. But…..how do you know? How do I know?
I convince him we can’t tell anyone yet. My parents, neither of which lived in Florida, would freak. Everyone would, wouldn’t they? Why so fast? Really, I was giving myself time. I knew how I felt and I felt scared because….how do you know?
I wanted a spring wedding but not this spring. That would be in two months. He doesn’t want to wait until the next spring. So we compromise. The beginning of lasting relationships – compromise.
By my birthday in May, three months after he asked, we tell our parents and friends. Mama, the one hurt so badly from daddy’s rejection questions my age, my youth. She had been 16 when she married daddy and was 18 when I was born. She knew young.
Weddings were a lot more simple in the 70’s. No fancy sit-down dinners, at least not among our friends. We had a bar-b-que in the church parking lot for the rehearsal dinner. Ahhh youth.
How will I know he’s the one for more than now? The forever one?
Here’s what I know. He’s smarter than me. He has always cared for me in a way that has my best interest at heart. He did and does put me first. He is a better person than me. He is the most giving man I know, this introvert that has no energy to talk to me at least two nights of the week. This man who prefers to sit in his “man cave” and watch golf to recharge for another day. He is the one.
He took this scared, insecure, orphaned girl who had no home and became my strength, my home.
It seems my opinionated strong will can intimidate some men. Not this man. Even my tears have never driven him away. Maybe starting out a little scared is a good thing. Maybe that prayer when I asked God to show me and he did? Yes, God answered. He gave me Henry.