By Tammie Allegro
For most of my life, just the mention of Valentine's Day would give me hives. Growing up, I wasn't the kind of girl whom everyone wanted to be friends with. This was before teachers started requiring that everyone in the class be given a card. Throughout my dating life, I always managed to be single by Valentine's Day. While I was in high school, my grandmother passed away on - you guessed it - Valentine's Day. I tried to find ways not to hate the day. I tried dates with my daughter and even had "Anti-V-Day" dinners with girlfriends. Nothing worked, until the day I met Mike, the man who became my husband.
At first, it seemed Mike was completely and totally not my type. Don't get me wrong; he is handsome and kind and so wonderful. I just didn't know then that those were all the qualities I would need in a husband. I didn't know that there would come a day when I would become sick and would need someone to take care of me and my girls.
From the time I met Mike until now, I have had so many illnesses, surgeries, scary close calls and diagnoses, they would send most people running for the hills. Somehow, I got this amazing and loving man who not only sticks around, but takes care of me in my absolute worst times. I have heard so many stories about spouses who couldn't handle the challenge of illness, and I know how fortunate I am.
Over time, Mike has helped me come to enjoy Valentine's Day. Our first Valentine's together, he gave me the nicest gift I had ever received. He bought gifts for our girls, including balloons and stuffed animals. I was already sure he was "the one," and it was the next year on Valentine's Day that he proposed. Every year since then, we have celebrated Valentine's Day together with our two daughters. The day that I used to dread has become a representation of our love for each other and our family.
Mike has helped me learn that love is not always seen in grand gestures; rather, it is in the small things. Love is rubbing someone's back when they are sick or standing by their side as they are rushed to the ER. Love is remembering to bring a bottle of water upstairs because your spouse often coughs all night. Love is taking the time to listen and be supportive on the hard days and to cheer the loudest on the good ones.
Valentine's Day isn't about cards and flowers and expensive gifts; it's about remembering how blessed we are to have love. This year on Valentine's Day, I am going to do something special to show my knight in rusty armor that I appreciate him. I will tell my children how loved they are, and I will make sure my dad knows he will always be my No. 1 guy. Tell us about your true love. It doesn't have to be a spouse; it could be a friend or even your children. Happy Valentine's Day!