One of the many endearing gestures my dad used to do for my mom involved Love Is cartoons. For those of you who aren’t familiar, these cartoons appeared in newspapers across the country and featured two cute, cupid style lovers and a sentimental phrase underneath. My dad used to leave them for my mom, particularly when he found one that was especially meaningful to their daily lives. He even found one that said “Love Is….your 25th anniversary” three years before they celebrated theirs and saved it. He had it in his hand at the altar when they renewed their wedding vows at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC. They had it framed and it serves as a reminder of their special day and their devotion to each other.
When I grew up and met Hubby, my dad would occasionally send me Love Is cartoons as the big events in our lives unfolded: getting married (Love Is….seeing him at the altar), finding out we were pregnant for the first time (“Love Is….telling him he’s going to be a dad”), and when Fruit Loop #2 was on the way (“Love Is….your family feeling complete”) just to name a few. Since losing him in October 2012, my heart hurts a bit when I unexpectedly run into a Love Is cartoon but I also smile because I know my dad is reminding me that it is essential to express your feelings. Even if you have to use a comic strip to do so. Love Is Important.
Hubby and I have been together going on 19 years, married for 15 this past September. As most long married couples will attest to, Valentine’s Day has become somewhat of an annoyance. A forced, Hallmark holiday where we are encouraged to declare our love and devotion to each other outwardly by dressing in red, hiring a babysitter, spending a fortune on dinner, cocktails and roses and making the sexy by 11pm (do you KNOW what sitters get paid these days??). All so that we can satisfy the general public that we do, in fact, love each other and that we are romantics and that a random day in February seals the epoxy of our marriage for one more year.
Sorry, Hallmark, but I’m calling bullshit on this one. Love Is so much more than mylar balloons, overpriced grocery store roses and sentiments written by a frustrated poet at Hallmark.
Love Is the electric feeling I had when I first looked into his eyes on Point Pleasant Beach, NJ in 1995. That awestruck, “holy crap I just met the man I’m going to marry and I sure hope my breath doesn’t stink cuz I think he’s going to kiss me right now” feeling.
Love Is when he made me dinner for the first time in his buddy’s tiny kitchen. Chicken Enchiladas. With more cheese than should be allowed by law. And in a casserole dish that could feed 46. Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten chicken enchiladas since. I guess I’m still full.
Love Is the look on his face when he showed up at my door with the world’s tiniest roses because he thought he was getting a “good deal” on flowers for his sweetheart. I guess someone failed to tell him that roses that cost $24.95 the day before Cupid’s Big Day are actually tea roses. And by “tea”, I mean about the size of baby’s breath. But I loved them anyway because he loved me enough to be annoyed that they weren’t good enough. Love Is that he hasn’t made that mistake again, either. Ahem.
Love Is when he proposed to me with the diamond that his father gave his mother. Love Is also that he’s still with me even though I lost that ring last summer while camping. And we all know how much I looooove camping. (Read about THAT debacle here….). Sigh. I sure do miss that ring.
Love Is in the photo I have of him, holding our first born Fruit Loop, gently kissing his forehead. Love Is also the giant Jell-O parfait he produced when I was cleared to eat something after 18 hours of labor. Love Is NOT, however, the “How was I supposed to know that the doctor would break your water as I was getting a snack when you aren’t allowed to eat ANYTHING?” conversation in the labor room but I’m over that. I swear. I really am.
Love Is in the pearl necklace he surprised me with on the day Fruit Loop #2 came with a note that said it was not only for me but that he hoped it would be her “Something Old” when she got married. Someday. When she’s 40. And meets The Right Guy. But no dating until she’s 18. And only chaperoned. Love Is that she will wear that necklace and we will weep tears of joy on that day.
Love Is when you are breastfeeding at the kitchen table, feeding a toddler and drinking coffee. And it doesn’t seem weird to him in the least. Love Is also him having seen you shave your legs, during a hangover, and without your clothes on after two C sections. Love Is also “You have something in your teeth”, “Dude, that is totally your brand” and “Courtesy flush, please!”. Love Is gross.
Love Is when you are on your bed together at 11p with the laptop researching concussion symptoms when your second grader has a whopper of a concussion. Love Is also cleaning up vomit together at 2 am, changing wet bed sheets and dealing with a sleepwalking child. Love Is being so sleep deprived that nausea sets in and the declaration that the Fruit Loops might actually kill us.
Love Is car parts in your dining room, mini explosions from carburetors while his friends video the action, racing his daily driver and breaking the transmission and all things related to Mustangs, Porches, BMWs, Cobras, GTOs, Audis, and, well, you get my point. Love Is loving cars even if you don’t want to and grudgingly admitting that convertible stick shift cars that go vroom vroom kind of turn me on. Just a little. Stop looking at me like that over there, sir. I SAID just. a. little. Sheesh.
Love Is trying to not be annoyed when he works late, when his schedule forces me to single parent and when business trips cause me to have to deal with bugs. Love Is his disposing of the bugs that have been trapped under red Solo cups for four days upon his return. Love Is grumbling when dishes are left behind, he’s hogging the computer or doing the bills. Love Is remembering that he works his ass off for us and that, sometimes, he doesn’t have to do the dishes.
Love Is having found the person who understands my crazy, accepts my faults and laughs at most of my jokes. Love Is Saturday night, McGuyver reruns and potato chips right from the bag at 10:30p. Love Is a partner who knows the words to the Mr. Belvidere theme song off the top of his head, makes “Phony phone calls to Edward Rooney” regularly and laughs to the point of vomiting whenever there is a poop scene in a movie. Love Is that he’s all mine, ladies and gents
Love Is Him. And I’m so very grateful. Especially since he’s shoveling right now.