John doesn’t let Alzheimer’s get in the way of Valentine’s day

Our Valentine's

Valentine’s Day has always been a big deal at our house. Although my husband is a year round romantic, he feels that this is the day to put the cherry on top of the frosting of the love cake.

Our celebrations have ranged from a quiet, candlelit dinner in a wildly expensive French restaurant; to a wild, pizza-fueled weekend sleepover with our grandkids. No matter how we marked the occasion, all were filled with love and gratitude for the life we have created together. This year we decided to avoid the crowds and went out to dinner a few days before, but kept our tradition of exchanging cards until “the day.”

John has developed Valentine card shopping into a high art form. He can spend hours looking for the perfect sentiment. Mostly romantic, sometimes funny, his choices clearly reflect what was going on in our life at the time. He took this task so seriously that he kept the location of his favorite card store a secret.

As the day drew near, John was becoming anxious because he had not been able to go card shopping. I told him not to worry that I would drive him to the store and he could pick something out. This bothered him even more. How could he find the perfect card if I was hovering in the background? And what about flowers? Where was he going to get the long-stemmed red roses that, to John, loudly screamed, I LOVE YOU!

My aunt came to our rescue by asking a simple question, “What can I do for you today?” We both jumped at the opportunity for her to take John to the store. Unsure if John had enough money, I pressed some bills into her hand while he was getting ready to go. To her raised eyebrow glance I responded, “Tell him that is his budget.” They bundled themselves into the car and off they went.

I didn’t realize until that moment how important it was to the both of us to have another year of surprise. When I later mentioned this to a friend, she said she would put all of our important dates on her calendar and make sure to take him shopping.

I received a bouquet of beautiful red tulips and as usual, his card was perfect. In essence it told me of his gratitude to me for listening, for lifting him when he stumbles, for laughing with him. For being his one and only Valentine.