Today is Valentine’s Day–a day for lovers. A day for flowers and candy and special dinners for two. A day to tell someone you love them. A day for husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends to spend time together—which is the most important thing you can do. It may be soon or it may be decades away, but the day will come when you are no longer together.
This is my first Valentine’s Day without the love of life, my husband Jack, who passed away in September. When one of you is alone, you may not remember the flowers or candy, but you will remember—and cherish the memory—of your time together, focused on each other, apart from the hubbub of the world and distractions, forgetting about rush hour and bills and laundry, remembering when you fell in love, talking about how that love has grown through the years or how you’re looking forward to being together for many years.
I know because my favorite memories are times we were together, doing little or nothing. We often sat on the front porch, watching our century plant bloom and a squirrel running around in the tree. We might be sitting in silence, but totally engaged with one another. Often, Jack would turn to me and say, “We have a really good life, don’t we?” Of course, I agreed.
We were very blessed because I was able to be a full-time caregiver for him. He had Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart problems, limited mobility, and a long list of other medical conditions. Yet, instead of thinking about his problems, he was positive, upbeat, and so much fun to be with. We enjoyed a lot of laughs together. Now that he’s gone, I look back and thank God for all the time we spent together. I have no regrets—my mission in life for the last couple of years was to take care of Jack and enjoy the time we had together, and that’s exactly what I did.
In spite of all his difficulties, Jack was happy and knew how much he was loved. He had seen my father have such memory loss with Alzheimer’s that he no longer knew my mother. I know Jack feared that happening to him. When he could still get around on his own, he would walk into the room I was in and say, “No matter what happens, I want you to remember how much I love you.” He wanted to make sure he told me as often as possible while he was able.
The other thing he dreaded was going into a nursing home. I promised to keep at home and hired extra help, but I knew if his condition deteriorated enough, he might need care that couldn’t provided at home.
But God is good all the time; all the time God is good. Jack was home with my sister and me at his side when he breathed his last, and he knew me to the end. I miss him terribly, but I know he is now pain-free, healthy, and happy in the presence of the Lord. In fact, I think he made sure I understood that. A couple of weeks after he died, I had a dream or a vision. I was standing at the kitchen sink, and a noise or something caught my attention. I looked over my shoulder and there stood Jack—young, healthy, happy. More than happy. He was radiant with joy and wore the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. And he smiled a lot in life. So many friends and family shared wonderful memories of Jack, I compiled them all in a book, Jack Stories: Favorites Memories of Jack Jordan Ammann Jr
So today on this Valentine’s. give the one you love a gift more valuable than three dozen roses, the best chocolate in the world, or the most luscious meal at a fabulous restaurant. Give the gift of your presence, your time, your attention.
I’m thinking about romantic love between a husband and wife as I write this because for the first time in 46 years, I’ll be alone on Valentine’s Day. But love isn’t limited to romantic love. Perhaps your parents or siblings need to know how much you love them. Maybe a friend who is estranged from her family needs to know someone cares. You might have a lonely elderly neighbor down the street who would be thrilled if you paid him a visit.
Valentine’s Day is a good time to express love, but it’s not the only time. The best time to express your love may be when your loved one is most unlovable. Be patient with the one who is angry. Encourage the one who is depressed. Hug the one who is frustrated. And tell everyone you care about how much you love them as often as you can. If you lose someone you love, you want to say, “She knew how much I loved her.” You don’t want to think, “I’ve been meaning to give her a call but just never got around to it. I sure wished I’d seen her more.”
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV)
Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers!
May your day be filled with love—love you give and love you receive.