Love is a subjective word.

Great way to start out a blog about love right before Valentine’s Day, no?

Think about it. What defines love for one exemplifies something else for another. It’s not often that similar interpretations of the four-letter word comingle into one cohesive understanding, even for two who commit to share said “love” and spend the rest of their lives together.

Love to me is not Valentine’s Day. Sorry, U.S. retail marketing machine. It’s not a card. Sorry, Hallmark. It’s not chocolate. Sorry, Whitman’s, Godiva and Hershey. It’s not roses or tulips or another flower. It’s not dinner out. And, it, certainly, is not anything on the Lifetime Channel.

Love is the little things you do when no one is looking. Love is letting your spouse sleep late on a Saturday morning. It’s getting up early on weekdays to fix the kids breakfast and get them ready for school so your significant other has time to get ready without having to rush. It’s holding hands in the movies, no matter who is looking, no matter how old you are. And, it’s giving her the last black olive in the salad because you know it’s her favorite part.

The key to finding successful “love” is to discover the little things that make your significant other feel important. They don’t have to be grand things, which often lose sentiment in the grandiose. They don’t have to be defined in a “love language” or spelled out in some tome that claims men are Martians and women are from a different planet all together.

Love could be a shade of gray… But, that’s a discussion for a different day.

Nothing defines love better for me than the love my parents shared.

Parents 001

He worked long hours as a machinist for a machine shop at first, then a sugar mill. She started as a homemaker then went to school to be a cosmetologist. Through the years, they raised three children. There were fights. There were tantrums. But, aside from the way I acted, they had their ups and downs.

In November 2003, a distracted driver hit Dad as he was crossing the street to go to work one morning shortly before 6 a.m. Dad suffered a major stroke on impact. He spent three months in a coma, another six in the hospital. His body slowly wilted over the next six years.

Through it all, Mom was right there by his side. She left her home in New Iberia and moved to a small, cold dorm room a block from the hospital in New Orleans, where he was in treatment for six months. She visited him every day. She washed his face. She kissed him. She hugged him. She never treated him like anything had changed.

When he came home, she prepared his meals and helped him eat. She helped care for him in ways no one could fathom at a time when they should have been in the throes of empty nest syndrome and a “second honeymoon.”

Mom often would sing late Louisiana Gov. Jimmy Davis’ hit, “You Are My Sunshine,” to Dad. A sinuous smile would slowly slither out from ear to ear, and he would lean his head in to her chest as she sang, hugged him and stroked his hair.

The morning he passed, she was by his side, holding his hand. And, one last time, she sang, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear how much I love you. Please, don’t take my sunshine away.”

I want to love like that. I want to be loved like that.

My wife is my life. And, often, even though I know better, I don’t let her know how much she means to me, how much of a better man I am every day because she is part of my life. So, I’m off to make the world a little more special for “my only sunshine….”

Parents 002

Mom and dad during my dad's hospitalization

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