Today is St. Valentine's Day! St. Valentine was a Catholic priest who was martyred on February 14, around the year 270 A.D. Since one account of St. Valentine portrays him as performing Christian marriage at a time when marriage was illegal, he has become the patron saint of love, young people, and happy marriages.
Since St. Valentine is the patron saint of happy marriages, Bear and I always celebrate St. Valentine's Day in a small way. Usually we will give each other a sappy card, spend some time together, and maybe try to attend Mass if possible. Bear is working this weekend, so I will bake heart-shaped cookies and red cupcakes with the kids, and hopefully we can find some time together next weekend!
And this year, Bear did something differently. The doorbell rang yesterday, and I stepped out onto the front porch to find a box containing this:
Isn't that sweet? Even though I detest the commercialization of our holidays, I couldn't help but be touched by the thought. I had to tell the kids "No, that's MOMMY'S teddy bear!" I did share the chocolates with them, since I am trying to shed a few pounds.
In honor of St. Valentine's Day, and since my last blog post was about how Bear and I met, here is the story of how we decided to get married...
When Bear and I met, I told him that I was not wanting to be in a relationship. I just wanted to hang out and have fun. He accepted this, but he warned me "If you let me, I'll monopolize your time." At least he was honest about it. After we had been hanging out for awhile, I strongly suspected that he was looking for a wife. I knew that I should probably move on.
I was a bit gun-shy. As I mentioned in my other post, I had been married before, for five years. I married young, a week before my 18th birthday, but when I got married, I thought I knew just what I was doing. I thought I knew the man I was marrying. Apparently I didn't. There was no way I was going to make that mistake again.
Bear and I were also very different. He was a slob, and his apartment was a mess. I was organized and neat. He was quiet. I was outgoing. I said what was on my mind. He either kept things to himself or hinted around without coming out and saying what was on his mind.
The biggest difference in my mind was the fact that we attended different churches. He was Catholic. I was Baptist. I didn't see how we could reconcile the two. This is probably the area that we butted heads on the most.
The turning point for me came when I left the hospital where we worked together and took a job closer to home. At the time, we lived 55 miles apart, but we saw each other frequently at work and visited with each other when we weren't at work. He lived just down the street from the hospital, so it was easy for me to stop by his apartment either before or after work. I would now be working near my home, 5 days a week, with weekends off. He worked every other weekend and had reserve duty one weekend a month. I figured that we would gradually drift apart and that our relationship would run it's course.
He decided to get out of the Navy reserves. I was taken aback and told him, "You really shouldn't do that just because of me! We probably won't be together forever, you know." He assured me that he was planning to get out anyway.
In my new job, as assistant director of nursing at the local nursing home, I was responsible for staffing. Finding nurse's aides to cover the shifts was always a challenge, and when I couldn't find anyone to cover, I was expected to come in and do it myself. One evening, after working a 12 hour shift that day, Bear called me and said that he wanted to come see me. Shortly after I hung up the phone with him, the nursing home called to tell me that they only had 3 nurse's aides for the night shift. I spent about an hour calling around, then resigned myself to the fact that I would have to go work the 11pm to 7am shift. When Bear knocked on my door (neither of us had cell phones back then), I answered in my scrubs saying "I'm sorry you drove all this way, but I'm gonna have to go in to work in an hour. You can hang out here tonight if you'd like." He decided that he would just come with me and help out. All night long, he helped answer call lights, filled water pitchers, and helped me turn and clean the residents. When he got so tired he couldn't stay awake, he laid down on the floor of my office and closed his eyes for awhile. That was the moment...when I saw him walking down the hall with the water pitcher cart, visiting with the residents who were awake...that's when my heart melted and I knew that I had to hang on to him.
We dated for another year after that before I seriously began to entertain the notion of marriage, though. We were attending church together as often as our schedules would allow, sometimes he would come with me to my church, sometimes I would go with him to Mass. We both wanted to please God in our lives. There came a point where we both knew that we would either have make it permanent or part ways, and neither of us really wanted to part ways. We decided we'd both pray about it and see where the Lord led us. We kept coming back to the fact that as we grew closer to God, we also grew closer to each other. And that our relationship caused us both to want to draw closer to God.
The funny thing was that Bear never actually proposed to me; he just kept hinting every now and then to gauge my reaction. When he got me to the point that I wasn't so resistant to the idea, he suggested that we go talk to his priest. Eventually, I said "Well, OK."
Here we are going on ten years later, and we both think it was a pretty good idea to let God decide for us.
Now, if you read all that, you deserve a treat! The kids helped me bake these, and they decorated them all by themselves.