As a seasoned journalist, I am adept at the art of eavesdropping. This morning, while dressing for work after swimming 2000 meters at the pool, some ladies congregated apart from me. One woman, clearly in her 70s and in amazing physical shape, started talking about Valentine's Day, and the 14th as a date of import to her and her husband. "We met on July 14; we were married on Sept. 14. We celebrate every special occasion with a bottle of champagne--the solstice, the equinox. . . "
Apparently, this woman and her husband have a liberal definition of special and if it keeps their marriage alive, so what?
On every wedding anniversary--she says it'll be 50 years this year--she and her husband read out loud old love letters they sent each other starting a half-century ago. Or they'll read greeting cards they've exchanged over the years. "Some times I have to read his letters to me, because he usually starts crying," I heard her say.
All I can say is, "Wow!"
Some people go their whole lives, even their married lives, without experiencing such devotion. It was wonderful to hear that marriage can be alive and well--if the two involved in that marriage keep it alive and well.
Another conclusion I reached from this is, in these days of electronic communication and text messages, lasting tributes to a shared romantic relationship are fleeting. Few people write letters, actual letters, these days--you know the ones you fold neatly into an envelope that receives a stamp? That kind of letter.
While we have never exchanged letters, my husband, Charlie Bowers, and I have a collection of greeting cards and small pieces of paper traded over the years--nothing close to 50, but that doesn't diminish their impact. Some cards get prominent places of display in my office, but most are tucked away safely. Also in my office is a collection of now-dried roses he has given me on anniversaries and Valentine's days.
The cards could--heck, even should--be brought out of storage to be shared once again, like the couple whose love life (or a small portion of their love life) I heard about in a locker room at a city pool at 7:30 in the morning.
So Happy Valentine's Day, everyone, because every day can be Valentine's Day and you shouldn't wait until Feb. 14 each year to show your loved one how much he or she is loved.