I’m great at expressing my feelings, as long as I can write it. Saying it doesn’t come easy for me, but words don’t carry the weight of actions.

Growing up in a family that wasn’t big on hugging or talking about their feelings probably has a lot to do with the fact I write my loved ones letters at Christmas. Tucked inside their stockings every year are the words I think often, but never say. Maybe it’s the chicken way out, but it’s the best I can offer, even though I consider myself to be a very sentimental person.

I can’t remember either of my parents ever actually saying they loved me. Mom was a very caring person and would do most anything for anyone, but she wasn’t big on giving hugs or being sentimental. During those last months, while I cared for her in her home, we didn’t exchange the words, but our time together said it all, for both of us.

Dad, on the other hand, was the rough and tough manly man, who certainly wasn’t going to share any mushy feelings or bear hugs. Most of the time he was all business, and since he looked like a drill sergeant, he wasn’t very approachable. When dementia moved in, his gruffness moved out and he became very sentimental, mostly about past events and people, although he often thanked me profusely. I’d ask him why he was thanking me, and he’d say he wasn’t sure, but just thought he should.

The words “I love you,” for me anyway, mean more than just an expression to end a conversation with. It’s all in what you do. The automatic “I love you” really isn’t sufficient in my world. It’s about showing the love in everyday life, the little things that make more of an impact than those three words ever could.

My Valentine is great at saying the words, but even better at letting me know how he feels by being considerate and kind, all the time, whether he’s having a good day or bad, or how grouchy I may be. All of those small tasks he takes upon himself add up to me being pampered, and basically, in return, he just gets the expected words of thank you.

I have never returned from the grocery store and carried in the groceries. If I say my car is making a funny noise, he checks it out immediately. If something breaks, he stops what he’s doing and fixes it. He turns up the furnace if I even look cold. He loves and takes care of my family as if they were his own. If I ask him for a favor, he never says no.

He’s had the flu this week so I made him, from scratch, chicken and noodles. With a hundred noodles lined up on the counter, drying out so they could be boiled, flour all over me and the floor, I thought, this is true love.

Give your Valentine the gift that lasts a lifetime by saying what you mean, but, more importantly, doing what you say.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com.