This Valentine’s Day, I’m actually thinking about my parents.
Probably, the reason why I’m so opposed to the “look at me, look at me” stuff that Valentine’s Day seems to dredge up is because my mom and dad have provided me with a perfect example of what unconditional love looks like in a couple, and it doesn’t look at all like stuffed bears with balloons, heart-shaped jewelry or boxes of overpriced chocolates that I really don’t need.
With my parents, it looks like sitting between your kids at church to try to reduce the chance of shenanigans in the pew.
It looks like my dad using the Weed Whacker down by the mailbox while my mom pulls weeds up by the front porch (while I stay inside, because yard work is the pits, in my professional opinion).
It looks like my mom and I going through all of my drawers and my closet before I moved out of their house while my dad took all of the heavy stuff down to the moving truck.
It looks like my dad driving to one of my away games while I was playing basketball in high school so my mom could go with Grandpap to my brother’s home game.
It’s not super glamorous. It’s not. But it’s real. The main thing that I’ve learned from my parents about love is that you need to be a team.
I talked to George and Thelma Beam a couple weeks ago, after they celebrated their 78th wedding anniversary, and one of the most interesting parts of the conversation was when George said that he and Thelma used to go hunting together. He said that he couldn’t really hear too well, and that Thelma was his ears.
What a team.
If talking to the Beams and growing up for 23 years with my parents has taught me anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter if it’s 33 years of marriage or 78. Teamwork does, in fact, make the dream work.
Maybe on Valentine’s Day my dad will buy my mom flowers. If he does, she’ll give him a smooch and put them in a vase on the dining room table.
It may not be the grandest thing. It doesn’t need to be.
I find that it’s not a grand love that’s the strongest. It’s not the showy stuff; it’s not the dramatic gestures with swells of violin music playing in the background. It’s not the sickeningly-sweet red and pink substitute-for-romance that Valentine’s Day seems to put on a pedestal. My parents work together, my dad sticks up for my mom, my mom makes my dad laugh and they celebrated 33 years of marriage in October. That’s 33 years of being an unshakeable team.
The point of this diatribe is that if I ever elect to be in a romantic relationship, I’m lucky enough to have parents who have provided me with a model of how it should be.
They aren’t perfect, but they’re perfect for each other.