My husband and I started dating in October of 2003. He is eight years younger than I am, and at the time he was working a minimum wage job taking care of developmentally disabled adults. He was also taking classes at the local community college and trying to get himself into nursing school. I already was established as a school teacher, and so most of the time if we went out and did something, which we did not happen very often, as much as it hurt his pride, I would carry the burden of the cost – which I never minded because I loved him.
For our first Valentines Day together in 2004, my then boyfriend decided to surprise me with a trip into Manhattan for the night. We live outside of NYC on Long Island, and so spending an overnight in the City is always a treat because we do not have to worry about trying to catch a train late at night to come home. He did so because he knows how I think roses, and chocolate are just a waste of money, and that I am all about the ‘experience’ type of gift where we can spend time together and build memories. So, he manages to save up the money, and gets us a nice hotel in mid-town, and makes reservations for a nice Italian restaurant that is highly rated in Zagats. I’m all excited and cannot wait to get to the hotel and check in for the evening.
Valentine’s Day finally arrives and I am all excited. We take the train into Manhattan, check into the hotel in the early afternoon, and decided to go out and play tourist and walk around for a bit before coming back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We walked around Times Square, rode the Ferris wheel in Toys ‘R Us, and just enjoyed each other’s company for the afternoon.
As we are walking back to the hotel, my husband begins telling me that is not feeling too good, and that he thinks that he wants to lie down a bit before we head out for dinner. After he lies down for a bit, it starts to become evident that he is really getting sick, stomach flu kind of sick. He keeps telling me that he’s going to be all right to go out, but after he throws up for the first time, I call the restaurant and cancel our dinner reservation. I know that this is killing him, because it is our first Valentines Day together, and he really wanted to do something romantic, and he had been really scrimping and saving to do this for me. So, after throwing up a few more times, he insists that he is ‘OK’, and that we should go out and try to grab something to eat. He knows that I am hungry, and does not want the evening to go entirely to waste. Even on the elevator on the way down, the motion is making him sick, and I swear between that and the fever his now running he practically passes out, but damn him, we are going to go out.
A well-known steak house is right across the street, and since we are able to walk right in without a wait, we go in. I can see that my husband is really not feeling well; he’s sweating profusely and white as a ghost, but keeps insisting that we stay and eat. So, I order just an entrée and a cocktail, and he ends up getting some bland pasta, because they did not have any good soup, and this seemed like the best thing given his stomach condition. I can see that he is fading fast, and the smell of the food around him is not helping, but he insists that we are going to make it through dinner. When our entrées finally arrive, the smell of the food in front of him is the final straw. He excuses himself and makes a beeline for the bathroom. About 10 minutes later he comes back, and gingerly sits down across from me at the table. I had had the waiter wrap our food, and got the check so that we could leave while he was gone. Good thing, because this flu had progressed, and I try not to laugh as my husband tells me what had happened in the bathroom. Not only did the poor guy start to puke, but he had diarrhea at the same time; he did not know what to do as he basically had an accident in his pants. He tried to clean himself, and his mess up, as best he could, before returning to the table. As he so eloquently described it, “there was vomit on the stall, and a load in my pants.” He said he felt sorry for anyone going into the bathroom after him.
So we left the restaurant, and headed back to our hotel room. My husband took a cool shower, continued to purge himself from both ends for a few hours. I went out to a bodega to get some water, and crackers should he want them, and took care of him until he fell asleep finally.
The next morning, we took the train home, and a few days later, I ended up with the same virus. I will say, it is not the most romantic gift that he has ever given me. But, it is definitely the most memorable Valentine’s Day that I have had with my husband.
I know that many people feel that valentines day is just a commercial holiday made up for profit by card companies, etc. I love my wife every single day of the year and I try to take time to show her and let her know as often as I can. Valentines day for me is a reminder to take a step back and make sure that I am letting my wife know how important she is and how much I love her because sometimes in our busy day to day lives we might forget to do this. Valentines day is also extra special for me because my wife's birthday is the next day. I often tease her that she must choose one or the other to celebrate!
Valentines day 2007: I had everything planned out weeks before hand. I made reservations for a hotel in Corolla NC. For those that don't know Corolla is on the outer banks, and if you've ever been to the outer banks in February you know its a ghost town. I arranged to have two dozen roses sent to the hotel and for the hotel to place them in our room before we arrived. I told my wife to pack a bag for the weekend but didn't tell her where we were going. When we arrived at the hotel and arrived at our room there were not any flowers to be found. I wasn't happy about this but i wasn't going to let it ruin the weekend. My wife had never been to Corolla and they have wild ponies that roam the beach and the dunes, but they are elusive and you need a four wheel drive to get onto the beach. I have lived here most of my life and have seen the wild horses only a handful of times. As we drove north to the beach access we noticed just about all of the restaurants and businesses were closed. I know my wife figured I had everything planned out, and I did except where we were going to eat! We made it to the beach and started driving around. Just over the second dune we came across the wild horses. I couldn't believe our luck, i've told my wife about them numerous times but i didnt think we would be able to find them. Few things warm my heart like seeing the excited smiles on my wife's face. After some pictures I took my wife up Penny's hill which is a giant sand dune. From the top you can see all of Corolla both the sound and the ocean. It was perfect, not a soul in sight just my wife and I on a beautiful evening on top of the world, watching empty waves crash on the beach. We drove around in the dunes for a little while more enjoying our privacy. My wife loves italian food, so as we were driving back to the hotel we passed a little italian restaurant and stopped to see if by some miracle they were open. The chef came to the door and said they would be open in half an hour. We killed some time and returned to the restaurant. It was a nice little place and after checking the wine list another miracle! They had century white wine from The Biltmore Estate. Its our favorite wine and you can only get it at the estate and this place had it. The food was some of the best we have ever had. Everything was working out to perfection. When we arrived back to our room my heart skipped a beat. Not only were the two dozen roses in the room, the staff had sprinkled rose petals all over the room, even in a heart shape on the bed. The lights were dimmed and the jacuzzi was running. They also had the champagne and chocolates I had requested set up by the Jacuzzi. My wife hugged me tightly with tears in her eyes. That is what I live for, to put smiles on her face, she means the world to me and I want her to know it.It was the perfect end to the perfect day. An awesome day for just the two of us to celebrate our love for each other! We were up late that night! WE always have good valentines day stories but none that compare to that one!
Well, here's our story. I hope its not too drawn out, but I wanted to give a little background to the story.
We met in 1995, and started dating soon after.What developed was a heated, passionate courtship, with many ups and downs. Looking back, the downs really fade into the background, and the ups seem to shine so much more.
In 2001 I had resolved to make her an honest woman. We had just bought two 4-wheelers, and I had the perfect spot. I did a lot of homework and research, and picked out the perfect ring. One day in late October, I got out of work early and bought a bottle of her favorite champagne. I put the champagne on ice in a cooler with a couple of glasses, bungeed that and a chair to the 4-wheeler, and went to the top of the mountain to stash them. When she got home, I asked her if she wanted to go for a ride that night, and she happily agreed. We rode to the top of the mountain, where you could see the whole city lit up, and nothing but stars above. The air was cold, crisp and clean, exhilarating for the soul and very romantic! She got a confused look about her when I pulled the chair out from the bushes, but she sat down anyway. I'm pretty sure she knew what was going down when i got down on one knee and proposed, old-school-like, and popped the question.
We were married in Feb. 2002 at an "S" resort in Negril. Here's a funny side-note: The only other couple with us on our destination wedding was my cousin and her boyfriend, and as the "S" resort was at 100%, they were "kidnapped" and taken to CN for a night. We tried to get married on Feb. 14th, but when we got there, the 14th was booked, so we ended up getting married on the 16th. No problem, Mon. With the exception of 2004, when I had been out of work for 14 months, we have been back to Jamaica for every Valentines day, as well as our anniversary on the 16th. We have been coming to couples since 2006, and have been to all 4 resorts. We love them all, but CTI (fka COR) is our favorite.
I have to say, the Feb. 2008 group was one of the best groups ever! You know who you are, so SHUSH!
Heather and I have this this little competition, to see if we can outdo the other, doing things for the other. One year she got me dinner on the beach, I'd buy her some jewelry, etc., etc. This year, tho, she outdid herself. She orchestrated a Navy SEAL-like assault on Tower Island on valentines night. At night, they don't lock the kayaks, but they lock up the paddles. She hijacked some paddles (we're not going to tell you how, i don't want anyone getting fired over this!), ordered up some desert and champagne & glasses, and we headed out to the Island. Easier said than done, holding all that stuff while she paddled us out to the Island. But of course we got there fine, and had a very romantic time frolicking around the island together. Probably enough said on that.
Of course, not to be outdone, I had to come up with something, and fast! Our anniversary was coming up on the 16th, and I was sure it would provide me with the opportunity. After a lot of deep thought, I knew EXACTLY what to do. We spent the day of our anniversary out on the Island, which was near capacity. Early in the afternoon, when it was getting quite festive, I stood up on one of the tables in the pool, introduced myself and Heather to everyone whom we hadn't met yet (which was only a few of the people), and announced our anniversary. After everyone stopped clapping and congratulating us, I said to her and everyone in a loud booming voice "There's just one thing i want to know!"
"Yes, dear?" she said cautiously.
"After 6 years, would you marry me again today?"
"Of course!" she replied, "I love you SO much!"
Miraculously, there was a "preacher" on hand (thanks, Fred), and I found a best man (thanks Jay), and Heather found a maid of honor (thanks Terry). Of course, a veil, garter, bouquet, and a bow tie turned up, and we had an "Islander" wedding. I even had cake sent over from the mainland. My only regret is that i don't have any pictures of the event, due to Island rules.
We still return every February, though we missed being at CTI in '09, due to the fact they were closed for renovations. No problem, Mon, we headed to Couples Negril. We did finally make it back to CTI this year, though, in fact we just returned. It was great to see the old group again, you all know who you are. Neither of us, however, has been able to top 2008 as far as outlandish activities. We do continue to look forward to many years of Valentines and anniversary shenanigans.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
My husband's passionate letter while I was spending time with my amazing mother the months before she passed away.
Hi Sweet Pea:
It's cold & I'm lovesick & I would much rather be in Hawaii with your beautiful self, drinking mai tai's & rubbing coconut lotion on your back-sneaking off to a secluded beach to make love on soft white sand. But instead here I am in Colorado cooking up a batch of wild turkey -buffalo-chipolte corn chile & my offical taster is over 2,000 miles away.
Tis a cruel fate that separates young lovers-if that's not a quote from an old play, it should be. I want your hugs, your sweet kisses, your glorious presence, & I want them now!
I have this weird dull ache in my stomach that only your touch can cure. Thank God the end of this torture is in sight. I can't wait to pick you up at the airport & smother you with thousands of kisses & squeezes and smiles.
I love you, I miss you, I adore you-
Make time go fast until you come home & then slow it down so I can bask in your beauty forever.
My kisses are in the wind-
Jen and Keith married September 2, 1996
In memory of my Mom, Jan Shell, March 31, 1996
A cold February morning, Monday, I believe, in groovy 1977, it was Valentine’s Day. My memory of this day is, well, frankly non- existent. See, I wasn’t even born yet, I would have to wait a few short months before I entered this world but make no mistake this Valentine’s would end up meaning more to me than one could imagine. On this very special day the most perfect gift was given, a gift so beautiful, so absolutely heavenly that even today it continues to impact my life. On this Valentine’s Day my amazingly beautiful wife was born and although I wouldn’t even begin to know the treasure of her love for another eighteen years, I am absolutely certain I will spend my lifetime holding, cherishing and loving this perfect Valentine’s Day gift. This is the story of the most memorable Valentine’s Day in my life, so important, that I get to celebrate that day and the love it represented then, and still does, every year.
Romance isn’t about a single night. It’s about a lifetime. Our journey as a couple began the night we met in Oahu, Hawaii in the summer of 1978.
It had been a dream of mine to make a trip to Hawaii and I had been saving money for a long time to make the trip. As soon as I graduated from high school, I was on my way. Nervously my parents let their youngest child embark on her first adventure without them and I experience true apprehension for the first time in my life. When I arrived at Hawaii with a friend from school, I spent the first part of the trip doing the usual tourist things like lying in the sun and, of course, hitting the mall.
My friend and I had a wonderful time in the sun and the night life was great. It was three nights before I was to leave the Island and head back home when I went to a dance club. It was at this club where I truly experienced love at first sight when this guy came up to me and asked me to dance. We spent the whole night dancing, having fun, and getting to know each other. When the night ended, he walked me back to my motel, treating me like a gentleman, and we said good night. You see he was stationed in Hawaii and was in the Navy. Duty on board his submarine meant that he couldn’t return the next night which left my last night the only chance to meet him one last time. The problem was that we didn’t set up a meeting for that last night and, after that, I was going to leave Hawaii for good.
I went back to this same dance club on my last night and searched for my new acquaintance. I began to feel sad that he hadn’t shown up. Could he have simply gone somewhere else? Perhaps he had to remain on his boat. My heart sank as I just knew that there was something special about him. Tonight was my last night but my interest in staying at the club was nearly gone. I was trying to be a good friend and not ruin the night for my room mate. At least she deserved to have fun before returning home. I settled in for a boring night and suddenly realized that this guy I met two nights ago was walking up to me at the table. I remember thinking that things always go this way. First you get excited, then you get knocked down, and then things always seem to come out okay. In any case, here he was and we had the rest of the night together. We spent the night laughing, dancing, and most importantly talking about ourselves and making a connection.
The next morning when I got to the airport, I was crying as I knew this was a very special guy and I didn’t want to leave Hawaii without him. He didn’t get to see me at the airport and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see him again. More of that “duty on the submarine” stuff. All I knew was that during our two short nights out together we had something and it was special. I think it may have been that “spark” that you hear people talk about. When the airplane finally arrived back at home I hurried off the plane to meet my parents. Without thinking about it when I saw them I blurted out “I’ve met the guy I’m going to marry.” Can you imagine my poor parent’s reaction? They sent their baby off to Hawaii for graduating from high school and she comes back to inform them of her future plans. Icing on the cake for them had to be when I told them that he was a sailor stationed on a submarine!
My Parents, bless their hearts, tried to make little out of my revelation and who could blame them. He was stationed on a submarine in Hawaii with the Navy and I lived in Washington State. We wrote a few quick notes to each other but little did either of us know but those two quick nights were just the beginning of a long distance relationship. We were a great distance from each other so our conversations were limited to letters and a few short phone calls. Also, he would go out to sea for months at a time and would only get mail two or three times during that period. Without saying it openly, I think we both knew that if we were going to make this work, we’d have to be patient, understanding, and open with each other.
Yes, it is possible to date each other this way and really get to know each other. In fact, I asked him to come to my parents place for Christmas that same year we met. I couldn’t wait to see him. The flight from Hawaii to Washington was long and he was quite tired. My parents met the dreaded “sailor from Hawaii” and he handled himself quite well. Still, with meeting the parents, a long flight, and having to work through the night on his boat before he came, he was feeling quite tired. I offered to give him a back rub and had him lay down in front of the fireplace in our living room. I could feel him relax and when I was finished he turned to me and told me, “That was a good massage. You deserve a little something for it.” This is when he gave me a box with my engagement ring in it and asked me if I would marry him.” Crackling fire, the warmth of friendship, and being with the one I love…How could I say no.
We both knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. He absolutely didn’t want to get married while he was in the Navy and we both knew that there would be extended times where we couldn’t even talk with each other. Still, we knew it was right. It was a whole year before we could see each other again. Six months later he was discharged and we set a date. In September 1980 we got married. The only problem was that he had to start his new job three days after our wedding and the new job was in Idaho. To get there in time we ended up heading to Idaho the day after we were married.
This trip was extremely hard for me as I drove away from my parent’s house. I was leaving behind many relatives and friends in Washington to start a new life in Idaho. Our so called, “Honeymoon” consisted of driving a U-Haul truck to Idaho. A slow, tired old truck that had everything we owned in side of it and our car was being pulled behind it. This trip was supposed to take a day but it took us three. We arrived late in the night on the day before he was to start work. We made it to our new home, he made it to his job, and we relied on each other. Our closest friends or family were at least 700 miles away. Many people said that our marriage wouldn’t work. “You don’t know each other well enough.” “You’re too young.” “You need to spend more time with each other before making such an important decision.” Still, we both seemed to know that everything would be okay.
Our life together continued to grow as we settled in on married life. In 1982 we were blessed with our first son. An important day to us and decades later his birthday would be remembered for another reason. He was born on September 11th. However, something was wrong! He was 7 weeks early and we were told that with him being that early he might not even survive the delivery. As we have always done when adversity is knocking on the door, we grew closer. We thought all would be fine when he did make it into this world despite being a premature baby. With all our happiness, we had no idea that our world would quickly cave in on us. Our son started to show signs of being very sick. We had doctors working on him continuously. He’d start getting worse and then he’d fight back. We tried to do everything including flying a medical team and jet up from Salt Lake City to get him to a bigger hospital. Still, to no avail, our son passed away 20 hours later due to Type B Strep pneumonia. As you can imagine, the pain we had to deal with from his death was excruciating. Still, from our early days, we had learned draw on the love that we had for each other to make it through.
Nine months later, we decided it was time to try for another baby. These nine months of carrying our son, were hard because all you can think about is am I going to lose this baby too. In 1984, our second son decided to enter the world three weeks early. Since we had lost our first son to Type B Strep, they wanted to do a preventive procedure of giving our second son a massive amount of Penicillin just in-case he too had Type B Strep. Tests an hour later showed that he didn’t have the same “bug” his brother had and he would be okay. We were relieved. Upon returning home to sleep from the birthing affair, dad was called by the hospital. A rare thing happened during this procedure in which the vein collapsed and shut down the blood to his spine. This killed the nerves in his lower spine and legs. He was now paralyzed from the waist down and we were told that he would be a paraplegic for life. Again we were challenged to respond to the highs and lows of life. Now we had someone to include in our group.
The doctors said he would never have the muscles or nerves to even be able to sit up. We thought they were wrong. As parents and a couple, we knew that this could tear us apart. Instead, however, it made us stronger. When one of us was down the other was up. When we wanted to cry we did. At about four and a half years old our son let go of his crutches and took his first unaided step. Our strength as a couple has allowed us to build upon the strengths of our son. He has learned to ride a bike, drive a car, and he is currently getting his PhD in Electrical Engineering. His strength is our strength and our strength is his.
That is what love is to us. It isn’t about finding the proper flower, the best location for a romantic scene, or saying the right things on one particular day. It is about sharing yourself with someone else for your entire life. I can’t even imagine going though all of this without having the love and support from my husband. Life experiences have created a bond. It is that bond that lets us know that our love is for a lifetime.
I ‘m always saddened at wedding celebrations. There, I see happy couples and happy families in joyful celebration. I see parents that really are “pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter.” Of course, at any wedding I can’t help but reflect upon my own weeding; I could not picture a happier couple, but the atmosphere was not pleasant and the journey to get there was stained with tears. Although my husband (Wes) and I (Michelle) had an awful dating experience, that depressing time in our life was marked with much love and some precious moments. Including this, our first Valentine’s Day together:
I was 18 years old and a sophomore is college. I still lived at home because my parents’ house was only a 10-minute walk to the university. As is to be expected, my parents wanted the very best for me. To my dad nothing was more important than my education, and my mom wanted me to do and be everything [she thought] I’d ever dreamed of. However, my parents’ hopes were crushed when Wes and I started dating at the beginning of December. My parents did not try to veil their disapproval; they were angry, and we felt it. (I’d previously had dozens of other boyfriends, but Wes was “older”  and they sensed this relationship was serious.) Wes was not what my mother pictured for me and my father was afraid my schooling would suffer. Life at home was tense and miserable.
However, life with Wes was wonderful. We complimented each other well and fell in love quickly. Our first Valentine’s Day was not going to be anything special. With our busy schedules of school and work we wouldn’t be able to see each other until after dark. Plus, with my parents so strongly against us, our time together was rare and treasured. I was not particularly excited to have a Valentine due to the circumstances and hadn’t planned anything special.
That’s why I was so surprised to find a note and little stuffed animal waiting for me outside the door when I left for school around 6:45am. It was sweet and unexpected, and I figured that would be the extent of our Valentine’s Day celebration. But when I got home that night, I learned that Wes had asked my parents’ permission to take me out. It was a school night, so I had a 9:30 curfew. We had about an hour and a half. With not enough time to really do anything, we drove about two blocks away and parked in the dimly lit parking lot of the city’s most beautiful building. Then Wes pulled out a large present. I was shocked at his preparation, and pulled out a dozen of my favorite things. He remembered everything I had ever mentioned liking! Including my favorite my favorite chocolates, and some strawberries to share which he dipped in chocolate himself. Yum! He also gave me a lovely wooden statue of a couple dancing tenderly. (Slow dancing was- and still is- one of our favorite things to do together.) Lastly, at the very bottom, I was confused to see a folded up piece of paper. I opened it and read the lyrics to my very own song, which he then proceeded to play for me! (Wes is a guitarist/singer/songwriter and had written a song that described our relationship perfectly.) The song, “If Forever was Tonight,” was like a lullaby with gorgeous harmonies and the sweetest lyrics. It brought tears to my eyes and would serve as a wonderful release during the coming years. All I remember next is kissing in that parking lot. Our time was up. He took me home.
It was short, but extraordinarily sweet. It was simple, but neither of us could forget all those little details. Our first Valentine’s Day was full of more love than some people ever experience, and I’m grateful.
The following year, things were just as bad with my parents. We had been talking a lot about marriage, so naturally I expected a proposal. He made us a delicious, romantic dinner at his house and we were able to eat and enjoy one another’s company for a couple hours—but no proposal. He surprised me by proposing three days later.
We will be celebrating four happy years of marriage this summer. I graduated from college within a year of our wedding and am living how I always dreamed—as a wife and housekeeper, soon to be mom, and working at my leisure. Now my parents love Wes, and we all enjoy spending time together.