Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and I thought it’d be a good time to write about love.
When I got back from Vietnam, I landed in Los Angeles, California. Instead of flying home to South Carolina to see my parents, I flew to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I had to see about a girl. I had to shoot my shot, as the young people say.
Back in those days, we did things that might be considered old-fashioned today. I had to ask Karen’s father for his blessings. He was a man of few words. That could’ve been because I was bothering him while he was busy at work. He ran a service station, and there I was holding him up during a thick Wisconsin winter to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The sky was snowing cotton balls. I was afraid of what he might say, but I’d been taught about faith, hope and love and that the greatest of all these is love.
With all the hope and optimism of young love, I made my case. He asked if I had any money. I said no. He asked how I was going to take care of her. I don’t remember what I said, but it must have been good enough, because we were married two weeks later.
Her family was Catholic, and mine was Southern Baptist. That might not seem like a big divide in today’s world, but back then, that was an ocean of cultural difference to navigate. Our families didn’t really understand each other, but that didn’t matter. We knew what we were doing was right. Now, over 50 years later, we’re still carrying on with the same spark.
I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books, “The Alchemist.“ Paulo Coelho wrote, “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
Love can bring us together. Love can help us grow into our better selves. Love can light you up if you let it.
All I can say for sure about love is when you know, you know. This Valentine’s Day, celebrate your person. Do something special for them. You wouldn’t be who you are without them.