On this day 45 years ago my parents were married in a small Catholic church in downtown St. Paul. The day was cold and it was snowing something fierce. My mom was in nursing school in South Dakota and my dad on leave from the Army.
Their romance was a whirlwind, only meeting months earlier at another wedding. It was my mom’s cousin who just happened to be my dad’s military buddy. Their courtship didn’t take place over the phone, online or via text messages, but by hand written letters. In fact, they only saw each other face-to-face a handful of times before they walked down the aisle.
My dad, the son of Mexican immigrants and recently returning from a tour in Thailand, was exceptionally dark skinned. My mom, a daughter of a farmer from South Dakota, who was not in favor of a mixed marriage, went against her father’s wishes to marry.
I have been tremendously blessed to witness true marital love my entire life. These last 5 years, even more so, as I watched my dad take care of my mom as her Lewy Body Dementia has progressed. In late November, we determined my mom’s care needs were becoming far more than my dad could bear alone, so the family made the decision to move my mom into a nursing home on Thanksgiving day.
The past two and half months have been very difficult for my dad. I talk with him daily on the phone and no matter what the conversation is about, he regularly tells me how much he loves my mother, how much he misses her and how lonely he is without her. He visits her as often as possible and expresses his love and demonstrates his love for her. He always has — for 45 years.
What my parents’ marriage has taught me is that while today is the day of love, with hearts, flowers, cards and chocolates, remember there are 364 other days in the year that you can also express and show love to those who are important to you. Tomorrow is not a guarantee!
I encourage you to take advantage of the holiday, but remember, love is not a feeling but a choice that is demonstrated by your words and actions, not just one day in the year but every day.
Happy Valentine’s Day!