Cheryl and I are emerging from the Glorious Valentine Aftermath of celebrating our 23rd Valentine’s Day and I, with a wry smile on my face. This has been a day of sincere celebration hidden behind the guise of a ridiculous excuse for a retail pantomime. Sure, we recognise that the shops need something to fill in the marketing calendar between Christmas and Easter but the idea of stepping out of the humdrum routine to share some rose-scented love doesn’t really have a downside does it. Now you’re probably wondering from the title of this blog post what happened. Well, I can tell you we had a few faux-pas moments during this Valentine’s Day and in the early days of our marriage they would have been enough to ruin ‘the moment’.
I met Cheryl at a Birthday Party just on 24 years ago and we have been married 23 years ago this March. We’ve had the ups and downs of most marriages and I’d be willing to take it on the chin that I’ve had a lot to do with the times we’ve felt like we were on the ropes. One of the enduring character traits I admire in Cheryl is her forgiveness and long-suffering. She has incredible strength, the ability to see the good in a person, compassion to work with the bad and a deep hope she is willing to share. WOW, I am blessed.
Tonight we went out for dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day but really it was to enjoy each other’s company. It was a perfect way to round out the day which began with Cheryl beating me out of bed ‘again’ to create a beautiful cooked breakfast. Cheryl had wanted to swap presents after midnight the night before but I’d been the meanie and said we’d wait till morning. Over breakfast, we exchanged those carefully chosen gifts. It wasn’t monotony after 24 years together, instead, it was fresh insight, new love and deep commitment. We wanted to bless each other.
I had kept on the cutting edge of Cheryl’s love for the Willow Tree collection and bought her the latest expression of Love called ‘Always’. It was a beautiful piece of a young figure on a block of granite clasping a heart. The granite rock was etched with words and symbols of love epitomising the ‘Always’ aspect of the portrayal. It occurred to me as I gave it that Cheryl will sign off Birthday and Valentine’s cards, “From the one who loves you most, Forever and Always”. I’m not a big fan of cards. I don’t get why the Hallmark people charge so much at all but as I looked for a Valentine’s Day card I chose the biggest and best because I know if the Birthday and Valentine’s cards I receive from Cheryl are anything to go by that she loves big cards.
Cheryl, conscious of my change of life due to a redundancy at the end of 2012 and an unknown career path ahead, had looked for something to encourage and inspire. She found a canvas-bound inspirational quote that had words that encapsulated her love and support along unknown paths. In part, I felt like she was playing Mother Eagle pushing me out of the nest. In truth, we’re probably going flying together.
I love how loving is getting easier with less of the ‘working it out’ and more of the ‘playing it out’. I think that as the years go by we ‘get’ each other more. Even as I left this morning to take the kids to school something happened and Cheryl gave me a look that needed no narration or interpretation. I laughed, the kids asked ‘What?’ and I was able to explain in a few sentences what one glance could mean.
This Valentine’s Day we have had to sit back and laugh at the silly stuff. Cheryl went to buy my Valentine’s Day card and only when she got home did she realise she had bought one that said; “Be My Valentine Dear Wife”. For me, I had been well prepared and bought Cheryl’s present three weeks earlier but hadn’t picked up a card. On the way home late on Wednesday night, I dashed into KMart to pick up a card. Finding what I thought was the ideal card, I then let it go for the ‘bigger’ card next to it. A quick look and it was time to drive home and hide it. Only when I got home and found Cheryl was still out at a meeting did I discover my mistake as I started to roll out the accolades of love in ink and saw the words “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”. Aaaaargh! I crossed them out, made a funny remark in the card and put it away ready to give it anyway the next day as all the other sentiments were right for the occasion.
Tonight I had booked a table at the Masala Indian Restaurant by the parade at Buckland’s Beach. It was a superb meal and while a little busy we enjoyed talking about the future, what God had in store and what we could do together. I had already booked movie tickets to see Bruce Willis’ A Good Day to Die Hard on opening night and we had an hour and a half free so we left the restaurant and sat in the car by the beach to watch the sun drift into the horizon. We talked and talked and the relaxing environment was embracing. With still time to go, we drove to the theatre knowing there was a Yogurt dessert shop open and this was the obvious coup de tart for the night. After enjoying almost child-like play in the building and eating our desserts we went to take our seats at the theatre. The young lady took my tickets but instead of ripping them in two and giving half back she stopped paused and then dropped the bombshell. “Excuse me, sir, did you want to see this movie today?” “Yes,” I replied. “I’m sorry sir but these tickets are for tomorrow night.”
In my haste, I had clicked the wrong button, bought the wrong tickets and stuffed the night up. In the early days of our marriage, I would have been angry at myself, embarrassed with no response and tried to recover my pride. Tonight we laughed. Stupid old married people eat yogurt ice cream for fun, share curries and laugh at their mistakes.
It hit me tonight that little things used to derail our relationship more than big things but that seems to have been where the biggest growth has come. I think it’s because we pushed through the big things, holding on to each other even when it hurt, that we’re here to work on the little things. Cheryl is a Saint but I still get upset with some of her finicky ways from time to time. I’m a model husband but I still need to shape up in many areas of life. Really!
Last week I was to meet Cheryl at a mall before we would go together and do a movie review. I had been waiting for a while due to different transport plans but when Cheryl walked through the entrance doors of the mall with her beautiful smile I felt my whole world open up with cannons of happiness bursting around me. That’s the Glorious Valentine Aftermath. It’s a love that explodes in a room when mistakes are made, or when a faux pas arrives special delivery but then love explodes with rose-red petals that shower the floor covering the dusty housework of the heart for another day.
I love her and she gets me. Blessed!