PAULA GRAVES: My father was notoriously cheap. He and my mom both grew up in the rural deep South during the Great Depression, so he knew how to pinch a penny or two. Nor was he demonstrative. He had a pragmatic, stoic outlook on life, with little patience for foolishness and sentiment. So you might think that Valentine's Day around my house was a forgotten holiday.
Not true, although my father observed it in his own unique way. One year, he bought my mother a Valentine's Day card and gave it to her the morning of Valentine's Day. My mother, not particularly sentimental herself, thanked him and set the card down, losing track of it at some point during her busy day. She thought nothing of it again—until the next year, when my father gave her the exact same card. Not another card just like it, mind you. The exact SAME card.
The same thing happened that year, my father not being obvious about it as he nicked the card and hid it away for another year. From that day forward, until his death in 2002, he gave my mother that same card for Valentine's day. It was their thing, and my mother still speaks with love of that quirky little gesture of his to this day.
For an unsentimental man, his Valentine's Day ritual was the height of romance. I think his unique style of expressing affection has influenced my own view of what's romantic, and how romantic gestures can be deeply individual, rooted in a person's history and personality.
MALLORY KANE: My parents fell in love at first sight, and they were in love for almost sixty-two years. They were not just comfortable with each other, or merely tolerant of each other's faults. They were in love, with all the passion and heartache that wildly emotional state entails.
My father was always more of a tease than a romantic. For example, the first time he and my mother ever spoke to each other was after World War II, when Daddy had just returned from Japan. He was driving his brother's brand new car through town when he saw my mother go into a furniture store. Pulling over, he jumped out of his car and managed to slip inside the store right behind her. My mother, planning to move into an apartment, asked the store owner to show her the twin bedroom set she had admired the week before.
My father, a mere passing acquaintance, stepped up beside her and said, "Now Maude, we are not sleeping on twin beds." They were married three months later, and, they did sleep on one of the twin beds until they could afford a double bed. Until the day my mother went into the hospital they still slept in the same bed.
At age seventy-eight, my father had open heart surgery. My seventy-six year old mother spent every night at the hospital, and every day beside his bed.
The first thing my joking, teasing father said when they removed the tracheal tube from his throat was this. "Maude, you know what that doctor found when he cut me open? He found your name engraved on my heart."
There is nothing more romantic than everlasting love. This Valentine's Day, may you find the everlasting love you deserve, whether it's the love of a spouse, a parent, a child, a pet or even love for yourself.
ANGI MORGAN: My dad always said he saw my mom and fell in love with her at that moment. Yellow roses meant a lot to them. Without fail, he always sent them on her birthday and red roses on Valentine's Day. He planted yellow roses at both bedroom windows to remind her he loved her all year long. My dad passed away in 1998. My mom planted a yellow rosebush near him.
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We'd love to hear if your parents had a special romantic day they shared. Please share.