Love at First Sight

The legends, the myths, the fairy tales … “they're true, all of them.”*

I really just wanted to plagiarize that line into a blog, and Valentine's Day seemed like the perfect day for it. The truth is, I'm one of those people who is not impressed by public displays of affection as proof of love, not even mega weddings. Those things are not indicative of “true love.” Valentine's Day is, however, a fantastic marketing scheme. Just yesterday, I saw a young man in a frenzied rush to purchase an enormous teddy bear and a big bunch of flowers. Poor fellow, he fell for it.

I wish I could, in clear conscience, persuade mass audiences that the proper way to prove true love would be to buy my books for their significant other. I can see it now:

Him: “Darling, will you marry me?”
Her: “Well, that nineteen carat diamond ring is cute, but since you bought me Blood Trail of the Falcon, I know you will love me forever! Yes! Of course I'll marry you! You are such a hopeless romantic!”
Epilogue: And they lived happily ever after.

Fantasy over. That conscience thing can be a real killjoy for brilliant ideas like that.

What does impress me is people who have stuck together through thick and thin. Relationships that endure financial struggles, sickness, and adversity are the real deal. In my world view, the notion of “love-at-first-sight” is a bunch of nonsense. True devotion takes time to develop.

At least that was how I felt until I met “her.”

It all changed in one instant. I could not have been more in love than I was at that first glimpse of “her!” She was beautiful and precious beyond description. I was instantly devoted and willing to lay down my life for her. And that feeling has never lessened. The only complication is that she lives in a different state than me.

And just when I thought it could not get any better, it happened again. Yes, my second granddaughter was born this past week. That doubles the love!

There is no describing the love of a grandparent. The funny thing is, I did not see it coming. I was blindsided. That does not happen all that often. Being a grandfather is amazing. If there were not other ridiculous distractions in life like paying bills and keeping the car from falling apart, it would be easy to become obsessed with just being grandpa and spoiling my grandkids. That said, no doubt it is a good thing that I have other life responsibilities so the grandkids can have some balance in their life also.

I guess I have managed to come full circle. As a grandparent, the legends, the myths, the fairy tales of love at first sight … “they're true, all of them.”*

Happy Valentine's Day.


*Han Solo, from Episode VII, Star Wars. (By the way, this footnote makes it not plagiarism.)

Me, a Hopeless Romantic?

It was on a cold February night in the early 1980's that I asked my girlfriend to marry me. We were college students in Iowa and, at that young age, she did not have enough sense to run for it when I popped the question.

When she teared up, I suddenly feared I had asked an absurd question. I knew she was not swayed by the size of the diamond, as it was nearly invisible to the human eye. I double checked to make sure I had not knelt on her toes. Ruling out logical explanations, I did the discreet thing and asked why she was crying. Turns out, it was February 10th and she thought I just could not wait until Valentine's Day. Yes, she mistook me for a hopeless romantic.

There was only one problem, I never gave Valentine's Day any thought. My memories of that day and celebration were less than fabulous. In school, I recall watching the popular guys getting loads of cards and candy from the girls. And the cards I gave out might as well have been labeled: Caution! This card is infested with anthrax, dog slobber, and RV's cooties. Good ol' St. Valentine's Day just did not hold any happy romantic reminiscence for me.

The truth was, the tenth was pay day and I was able to pay off the ring that day. It was not especially romantic, just practical.

So here we are thirty-three years later. You might have guessed she said yes. Poor thing, she's been stuck with Mr. Practical all these years. I hope I did not ruin her life.

As practical as I am, however, we do celebrate a few important dates. We celebrate the day we met. We celebrate the day we almost met. We celebrate the first time she saw me eat a peanut butter sandwich. I guess that was amusing to normal people back then. We celebrate the day we “went steady,” the day I proposed, and the day we got married. We sprinkle in a dozen or so other random important memory milestones and count our marriage years and months as well.

Thinking about it, I wonder how we get any work done with all that celebrating. Maybe being practical is not all that bad after all.