Rick Wamre: Real-life love

It can make those elaborate gifts and pricey dinners seem silly

The whole point of Valentine’s Day is to honor someone we love, or hope to love, or hope can love us unconditionally.

For the most part, we only need to find one such person to live a happy life, yet we all know how hard that can be.

One of the ways we show someone we care this time of year is treating them to more expensive food and drink than we typically can afford.

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Getting all dressed up is another way of saying how much the person sitting across the table, or next to us at the bar, means to us.

Buying a dozen roses, even at triple-the-normal-pricing, is just part of the deal. Boxes of candy, painstakingly home-cooked meals, elaborate videos — they’re all ways of showing we care to someone we feel the burning need to impress.

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I confess to a certain amount of trepidation every February. I’ve written about this before — my history of over-thinking, over-spending, over-trying and just plain not being very good at proving I can be romantic at least one day each year.

In baseball, they call it squeezing the bat too hard. In television, it’s called jumping the shark. In business, it’s trying to pound a square peg in a round hole.

Some of us just aren’t cut out to be romantics in any sense of the word; it boosts my blood pressure sitting here thinking about it. That doesn’t mean we’re bad at romance or destined never to find someone who will love us; it just means that big, dramatic gestures aren’t something we’re good at.

That’s why a recent email I received from a friend gave me something to think about when it comes to romance and love.

Her parents had been married 68 years, and even though Valentine’s Day was months away, they were getting ready for a big moment together.

Her dad was living at a hospice, a variety of ailments leaving him confused most of the time. Her mom was living in a different hospice, a major heart attack leaving her bedridden and threatening her future.

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The daughter sensed time was short, and with the blessing of doctors monitoring each parent, she arranged to bring dad to see mom. And when each learned about the planned visit, it wasn’t enough just to show up.

Dad insisted on wearing his best shirt and jacket to impress his wife. And mom refused to let her husband into the room until she had finished applying his favorite shade of lipstick.

The email included a photo of two frail people, both knowing their time together was nearing an end, holding hands and sharing the kind of look that no grand gesture of roses or wine can generate.

My friend’s mom died a few days later, her heart failing for good this time, but not before they had those final few moments together.

No expensive food. No pricey wine. No flashy new clothes.

They just said goodbye to each other simply, and they each knew how much the other one meant it.

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