Then he said those three words that started my heart pounding and my hands sweating, "who broke this?”
Since there’s no one else in this house, and he’s used to getting the same answer from me for the past 15 years, it was a moot point. I did however manage to remind him I would still be his valentine.
What exactly does being a valentine mean? The dictionary says a valentine is a sweetheart. Depending on the day, the time and my mood, I can be sweet at least 70 percent of the time. The other 30 percent has a name of its own.
I warned him, from the very beginning, I came with "baggage." At that time it was my overprotective and opinionated Dad who still thought I was in high school, literally, thanks to the dementia. Lucky for me, my valentine thought everything Dad said was funny, especially if it involved made up stories of my past.
There are pros and cons of beginning a relationship with grown children and having been around the block a time or two. We have learned how to share, which wasn’t always easy, his kids, my kids, grandkids, debt, dogs and bad habits. The mixing of the two can become complicated, but nothing a conversation or two can’t remedy.
"It's not a thinkin' thing," my sweetheart has always said, and I still believe him. As our lives quickly became intermingled, we’ve stayed the course, which is with each other.
I feel so fortunate to have rediscovered things which are more fun with two rather than one. Like getting stuck in the snow, fixing busted water pipes or just simply sharing time and space. When you know someone cares about you, anything seems possible.
I'd never been too crazy about cooking. Not that I didn’t like it, I just never had much patience with it. I rebelled against directions or setting timers so nothing ever tasted right or I’d burn it, which doesn't taste very good either. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and I’m living proof it must be true. For as many things as I can mess up, break or forget, my cooking seems to make amends with him. I’m thankful he took the time to teach me how to cook, but even more than that, he always says it tastes great even when I know it doesn’t.
The beauty of being mature empty nesters is knowing love is saying you're sorry and being able to sound genuine, even if you aren't, and overlooking bad habits because you have plenty of your own.
Thank you to my valentine for making every day like a box of chocolates and never saying, “I told you so,” when you come to my rescue to finish the project you told me to never start.
-- Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org