On Valentines: the Ordinary–Extraordinary–and Forever

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

On Ordinary Valentines

The stores are full of Valentine’s Day cards just now, cards for every kind of “valentine”: husbands, wives, sweethearts, grandparents, children, friends. I even saw some for pet owners “from your cat,” and “from your dog.”

Love is in the air! At least it’s on the greeting card shelf at the local grocery store, right next to a display of chocolates in heart-shaped boxes and very realistic looking bouquets of red silk roses with tiny, transparent “dew drops” glued on.

I got to thinking about how few people, it seems, ever really accomplish that “forever soul mate” kind of relationship, though, the kind that extends beyond the hearts and flowers stage (but the addition of chocolate, in my view, does have the power to extend the emotion a bit further :D).

I mean the kind of relationship that continues beyond the plot lines of every romance and fairy tale, and/or successful Hallmark Movie, the real “ever after” where everybody starts getting crow’s-feet and gray hairs, and maybe gets a little cranky, too, as the vestiges of first middle, then older, age begin to take the shine off the sent bien of love’s first blush–not to mention the easy-to-overlook “for worse” part of the marriage vows that is hardly noted amid all the shimmering white lace and promises of the first part.

And then, to make matters worse, or should I say, more challenging, I read somewhere recently that even the hormonal, “chemical” attraction, as strong as it can be, only has a shelf life of about two years, if that is one’s sum total of a “soul mate” relationship marker.

And with the impetus of most romance stories capitalizing on the first blush part, it’s no wonder most people have that idea. Then, when the time’s up, they think the relationship is dead, or the person wasn’t really their soul mate, or another prospect shines more, even if the shine is predominantly silicone, Botox, and/or Max Factor…

Ay-yi-yi. Happy Valentine’s Day, right?

However, there are also others who do seem to have that kind of relationship longevity that everybody not only hopes and wishes and buys Valentine’s Day cards and chocolates and flowers for but also longs for in the recesses of their real heart (unless, I suppose, they are bona-fide psychopaths)

On Extraordinary Valentines

When I was about 17 and still under the spell of youth-think when it came to love and romance, I once saw an old couple shuffling along the sidewalk of the busy street in front of the pizza parlor where I worked. The couple, clad in long, loose overcoats, she with an old-fashioned scarf on her head, were each slightly bent forward, holding hands as they moved along, and, viewing them from inside the close-by, front window of the parlor, I could see their smiles when they turned their faces toward each other.

I experienced a momentary, shard of a desire to want THAT kind of long-lasting relationship.

And my momentary reaction was more than just the clichéd, “Oh, isn’t that CUTE?” kind of patronizing reaction youngsters who feel immortally young tend to react with, if at all…

But within a minute or two, it was back to slicing the pizzas crowding the work counter at that very busy time of the weekend in between answering the incessant phone order calls, and, always, in the back of my mind, engaging in youth-think viz love and romance, meaning, wondering if amid the noise, constant counter demands, and hairdo-challenging heat so close to the pizza ovens I had  maintained my best look in the hopes some good lookin’ guy might come up to my cash register…

Nevertheless, I can still to this day picture the two oldsters in my mind.

Mostly, I wonder if they were of the few who seemed to make it for the duration of a long-term marriage and not just because they had to but because they had indeed “passed Go,” and could collect their $200, and not only once but over many years on their way to accumulating not only the inevitable risks such as in the metaphor of a game of Monopoly, but also the payoffs over a long-term of making good decisions and choices in the relationship department.

I wondered if, perchance, these two had REALLY found their “soul mate”?

Or (as I know now, no longer young) was it something else I was viewing outside the window of the pizza parlor?

WARNING: if you are still limited to youth-think about love and romance, I might rock your world, here, at least the world of romance you are accustomed to seeing, hearing, and/or fantasizing about.


Old people (meaning, depending upon YOUR age, youthful reader, anyone over 50,60,70…or even 80, where there is still stamina and everyone is ambulatory and of sound mind if not the best of memory) can still feel that old, and ageless, as it turns out, romance, fall in love–even have sex–if they so desire, if there is still….

I warned you! (If this is your first awareness of such a phenomenon, however, a few “Eeeeewwww’s” are entirely expected. I’ll wait.).

So just maybe I was seeing some older version of  “Me and Mrs. Jones” out for a walk that star-crossed Friday night, each with a new lightness in his/her shuffle, mysterious smile wrinkling his/her face, and holding each others’ knobby, arthriticky fingers…right there past my work window…

STILL don’t think so, kids?

I used to live in a 55+ retirement community, barely having met the minimum age requirement at the time, where I’d say a good 95% of the residents only WISHED they were still 55, as they looked back through the rear views of their now  restored ’56 Chevy’s, or Classic red sports cars, cruising the gated community roadway at 15 mph, unless they were in their golf carts.

One day (and I am not making this up) I came home from work to the “shocking news” from two octogenarian ladies walking by (shocking news for some, anyway, delightful for others) that widow A and widower B were now, and I quote, “shacking up” in his place…

“There is a God,” I thought, though I did not share this with them, and meaning God in the sense of hope not any kind of impropriety…

But of course–and to the forever kind of Valentine–if creation craves relationship, even romance, love, and intimacy, there is a Creator for that.

On Forever Valentines

In other words, if God, Who believers recognize as the Genesis and genesis, the Alpha and Omega of love in all its variants, has, as the writer of Ecclesiastes put it, “made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:11), there is love that lasts long past the first blush, renewed “blushes,” or even new ones– at any age.

There is that love even more all-encompassing, all-enduring, and satisfying that we know through Jesus Christ, sent us by God, who “so loved the world…” you may know the rest.

However, because human relationships are subject to not only misunderstanding but also misuse and abuse, God, through His Son, accomplished one more thing for us.

All that stuff that gets in the way of love, true love, ageless and timeless, Jesus took on the cross to not only pay the price for all the pain of broken hearts and minds and spirits, too often the detritus of human love, but also to show us the way forward, whatever it might be, in a new life centered on Him. Capiche? If not, here’s more on God’s love where John 3:16 came from.

And, oh, imagine just now a big heart-shaped, pink and red card with sparkles and flowers and images of boxes of chocolates (Euphoria, See’s, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or any chocolate product from Belgium would be good to imagine on the inside) that says “Happy Valentine’s Day to Blog Readers at pnissila.com”.

(There might even be a card on that big rack in the grocery store that says that, there are so many categories anymore!)


Images from Wikimedia commons

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