Valentine’s Day of course, makes me think of my darling wife. And I have the opportunity each day to love her and to be a good husband to her because of the now nearly 62 years that my own parents have been married to each other.

I can’t remember a time that those two were not in love. Not the gooey romantic kind per se. They have that too, but I’m talking more about the kind of love that, well…Jesus calls us to.

My mom has been sick for years, since I was about 5 the hospital visits started. That was tough for a little kid to deal with, but probably even harder for a husband to have a fairly young wife so sick. Yet, Dad made it seem easy. He rarely complained and always made sure he took care of us and worked hard when mom was well to make sure the bills were managed. A lot of overtime came his way and he often took it to make sure we were well cared for. He was a school custodian, head custodian, to be more accurate. He was proud of that title and those he worked with were proud of him. More importantly, my mother was proud of him. She beamed when he came home and have dinner ready soon. He’d fall asleep in his chair and the snoring would start at some point and my mom would just smile and wake him up.

Last year my dad broke his hip the the usual role of caregiver was reversed. My mom now visited him in the hospital and the rehab center. He’s back on his feet and doing so well. Amazingly well actually and I dot mean that in that backhanded-compliment way. “He’s doing well for an 83 year old.” No, he’s doing well for a 40 year old. He’s better than ever and most importantly–he’s back with his bride–caring for her in their old age together.

That dedication to his wife, now in his old age that really is astounding.

While miles away in Buffalo, I know that I get to love my wife in our home together because the custodian decided to marry that pretty brunette in 1950. They were good, nay great, models of married love–the kind of self-sacrificing love that marriage calls us to. Without that kind of love, one doesn’t really have a marriage–and I think that’s something that most don’t understand, eschewing marriage when things just get too tough.

What might I have to learn from them today? Well, patience for one. There are going to be tough times in my life and my marriage is something that helps me sustain myself in those tough times because I know that my all-too-patient wife has my back. Do I often have that same kind of patience for her when times are tough? Can she depend on me as my mother has been able to depend on my father? Indeed she can. And I hope she knows that. I’m sure she does but I also know that it’s nice to hear once again.

Today, people will feel any number of ways about Valentine’s Day. Some will be lonely because they are not part of a couple. Others will be frustrated because they are in a couple where there isn’t mutual dedication leading to more commitment. And others will be grateful because they have a partner dedicated to that relationship.

Still, no matter where we are, we are called to love. Not romance. Love goes beyond couple-hood and brings us into being dedicated to those we love–not in the hope that we are loved by them in return (though that is often a nice result), but rather we love because we are already loved.

By God.

God loved us enough to share in our life and through that life we are taught how to love…all the way to death and even beyond death. By that life and love we are taught to care for the vulnerable and to sacrifice our comfort for the needs of those who have little. We shift our desires from what we most want to what those in our world needs and in doing so we find God and ourselves in union together and surprisingly happy–perhaps happier than we thought we would be or even could be.

I know that’s the love that my parents share and have shared now for nearly 62 years. And I know that love too, now for nearly 10 in marriage with my Marion. And we thereby are able to share even more love with those that we are called to love. It’s taken us to Nicaragua to care for orphans. It’s sharing food with the hungry and with food banks who care for them. It’s having a listening heart for students, volunteers and friends.

Simply put, it’s embracing love and all that love calls us too, come what may.

Today, this Valentine’s Day may you share love with whomever you are called to. It might be a partner in love, but it also might be someone that you did not choose to love–but rather someone whom God calls you to love this day.

And that kind of love, is truly what can make this a Happy Valentine’s Day for all.

One thought on “Because the Custodian Married the Pretty Brunette”
  1. Sitting here in the rectory, sobbing like a baby. Beautiful. I love you and Marion – so glad that I got to spend time with you both in October and love your Dad! It was such a treat to meet him. He is dignity personified! I keep all of you in my prayers.

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