Years ago I heard a friend say I was “that guy”…the type other men hated on Valentine’s Day. I do flowers. I plan dinners. I write my feelings on cards. But I don’t do this to make me better than other men. My motivation is something natural and much more personal. I am driven by the need to make this day special because it’s important to ME.
I’m not sure why but I have always been one to want to show my love. It might have been the strong influence my mother had in my life. It could be I saw how my father missed the opportunity to tell my mom how much he really loved her. It could just be the way I am wired. But whatever it is I have always enjoyed being that guy to show the one I love how special they are to me. And I think Valentine’s Day might have been created just for me.
A couple of weeks ago my mom called me to see how I was doing. We hadn’t spoke in a while and it made me feel good to hear that she was calling just to say hello and to tell me she loved me. Growing up with a very strong and often harsh father was tempered by the love and affection of a mother that was kind and caring. There was never a time when I didn’t know she adored us kids and she loved us unconditionally. The confidence this gives a child is something that has lifelong effects that helps to build strong, healthy lives. My mother has always done that for me.
On the phone this day, she told me a story that was new to me. My father passed away a year ago and before he died he made a confession to a friend of his. He shared to this friend that my mother was the “best thing that had ever happened to him”. My mother mentioned the obvious that my dad wasn’t very good at expressing his love, not only for her or us kids, too. Her voice cracked as she said that she wished she had heard him say this expression of his love with her own ears. But she told me she knew she was that to him. She knew she was the best part of his life. Still, there was regret at the fact he never told her, in his own words, how much she meant to him and how much he loved her. She then took the time to remind me that I should never miss the chance myself to tell those that I love just what they mean to me. At first I thought she was preaching to the choir but then I realized there is more I could be doing.
Over the years, I’ve made the most of Valentine’s Day. In our early years, I would plan a special dinner with Laura, never forgetting flowers or a gift. To me, details were important because the details themselves were an expression of my love for her. February 14th is so important to me that I even proposed to her on this day 28 years ago. I concocted up a story about how I needed to drive to Seattle to deliver something for my father but if she went with me we could “go to dinner or something”. Of course, I had pre-planned a special evening at the most romantic restaurant in town, complete with engagement ring, violin player and a gorgeous view of the city lights. I have tried to never miss a chance to make the most of this day. As the years went on we would include our daughters and this day evolved to be more family friendly. The way I see it, this is the day to not only say “I love you” but to take time to show it.
When it comes to my relationships I think I am always been a little sappy. Some might call it romantic or touching but whatever the description but I enjoy showing my feelings through open signs of affection. Giving a card, flowers, candy or a small gift have always come easy for me. And to me, it’s just an automatic that on Valentine’s Day you do something. I always enjoyed planning something special for Laura to show her she means the world to me. But I realize I can do better.
In my mind I think I have been pretty good about telling those in my life that I love them. And I think I have done a good of remembering to use Valentine’s Day to show that. But sometimes we aren’t nearly as wonderful as we think we are. Sometimes, we get lost in what we think we have done vs. how our loved ones see and hear and feel us. And sometimes we live in the past, remembering the romantic things we did previously but not lately. I realize this is true for me. I am afraid I have missed some opportunities to share with my girls what they mean to me and how my life is richer because I have their love. So February 14th is the perfect opportunity for all of us, but especially me, to stop, think, and take that time to say I love you and to pledge to myself to be better.
As much as this day is about professing your love for that special person I have just recently understood the importance of living that love each and every day. Don’t get me wrong; I still think this day is THE DAY to celebrate and to be sappy. But all of us, including me, need to do a better job of saying and showing “I love you” every day. Let’s not wait for one day to share our love but rather make our expression on this day the biggest and grandest of the year.
I still want to be “that guy”. But I think over the last few years I have been off my game. My desire is still there. My love is still there. I just need to remember to show how I love her every day. Not just in the middle of February. I do love a challenge.