For years I watched other women get beautiful flower arrangements on Valentine’s Day. And can I just say it? It felt plenty lousy. So when I FINALLY met and married Mr. Right, I made sure he knew I expected flowers sent to me at my office, for starters. After all, I had two decades of solitary to make up for.
Chris never complained. He even signed one of those many bouquets, “As Frank says, I love my wife.” The reference was to a song Sinatra recorded from the 1970s Broadway musical “I Love My Wife” and the closest we’ve come to an “our song.”
Twenty-seven years later I still have that card in my desk, but Valentine’s Day? We both gave that up years ago, and not for lack of love. It just seemed, well, over-rated.
Around year seven, I started working from home, so no one but me ever saw the flowers, and I had nothing left to prove to my coworkers or myself. One of our cats developed a taste for flowers anyway and dragged them all over the house, chewing them down to the stems. So the vase always ended up on a tall bookshelf or the refrigerator where neither cat nor I could enjoy them.
Eventually I told Chris to skip it. Skip the flowers. Skip the card. Skip the whole day. I didn’t need Valentine’s Day anymore because my husband showed he loved me in a dozen ways every day that meant more than all the trappings.
Chris always made coffee before he left for work and set out a mug for me, Monday through Friday, every week. Some days he left sticky notes saying, “I love you” or “Have a good day” or “Good
luck” if I had a presentation. When my blood pressure acted up, he hid a note in the box with the BP cuff. It’s still in there: “I love you” and a smiley face.
When the cat who ate the flowers journeyed over the rainbow bridge, it was Chris who dug her grave in a flowerbed and comforted me while wiping away his own tears. When her sister-cat developed chronic renal failure, it was Chris who administered subcutaneous fluids to her every day for close to a year, along with a thousand other kindnesses. He did it without complaining, even though I was the only one she wanted to cuddle with. And when her time came, he buried her as well and grieved with me again.
I’ve had a few surgeries in our time together, and some required him to fuss over me more than I would have liked. I was often grumpy, but he was patient and persistent. I don’t know what I would have done without him.
But don’t get the idea he’s perfect. The man can’t keep a hand towel folded on the rack to save his life! I mentioned this to his mom once, and she said his dad (by then deceased) was the same. “But how I wish I could see those towels all messed up again,” she added, wistfully. Now when I see messed up towels, I smile and appreciate what I’ve got.
Our current cat, Maisie, is our first to choose Chris over me as her alpha-person. She follows him everywhere, and I often hear him hold long conversations with her in baby-talk. He worries if she doesn’t eat as much one day or sleeps a lot another. He built her a fancy litterbox inside a deck box that she accesses through a pet door going from laundry room to garage. It’s fully carpeted with a motion-sensitive light.
You gotta love a guy like that. I know I do. I even understand why Maisie feels the way she does.
Speaking of the Maze-ster, I talked it over with her, and she agrees, it’s silly to set aside just one day to say and do what should happen every day and does in this house. Maisie even helped me pick out the nontraditional Valentine links I’m sharing in this post.
BTW, here’s that song, “I Love My Wife”… Enjoy!
‘A House is not a Home’ & other love stories
Vogue has delighted me all month with short and insightful essays about love in all its forms. My favorite so far is “A House is not a Home” by Julia Felsenthal, probably because the narrator and I share an addiction to decorating our homes. But ALL the essays are great. Access them here and be sure to check back for the Saturday and Sunday additions.
In my pre-Chris years, I could have written the first sentence of “Flying Solo on Valentine’s Day? 8 Ways to Love Every Minute” by Molly Guy:
How I wish I’d thought of these options then instead of feeling miserable. “Bottom line: Love is broad and connection comes in many forms,” Guy says. “So why not use good old Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to explore intimacy in its many forms, instead of as a tool to measure your self-worth? You might even fall in love with yourself in the process.” Check out the full post here.
If the one shown here only whets your appetite, check out the full blog post on I Want That. And if the eight included there still leave you hungry for still more, head on other to @sejjko on Instagram.
These houses remind me of being alone. And strong BECAUSE of it. So I included them here.
‘Houston, We Have a Flower’
If you rooted for Matt Damon’s character in “The Martian” as he struggled to grow potatoes, now give a cheer for astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently nurtured a flower to blossom at the International Space Station. Read more about this feat at House Beautiful, and stay current with Kelly’s latest botanical goings-on by following him on Instagram and/or Twitter.
If we’re ever able to order a Valentine bouquet of flowers cultivated in space, I bet the price will be out of this world (badabum-ching).
FILE UNDER: ‘Any Excuse for Chocolate’
PIC OF THE WEEK: My Kind of Gem
Whether the “ex” you love to hate is your own or your partner’s, for $10 the Bronx Zoo will name one of its Madagascar cockroaches for him or her and send you a hiss-worthy digital certificate for presentation. Sign up here, because it’s true what the zoo order page says,
“Love is like a roach: Elusive, resilient, and sometimes scary.”
And that’s my last word on the love subject. For this week anyway.