Generally, most men feel February 14th, Valentine’s Day, is a day created by card companies, florists and restaurants. An opportunity, if you will, to make us guys feel guilty when we grudgingly participate. I have on several occasions been one of those guys searching for a card and a box of candy or flowers as the clock ticks towards Valentine’s Day. However, there are times a few ladies have joined us guys in that last-minute scramble.
One of my most memorable moments during my time co-hosting “Talk of the Town” on NewsChannel5 involved my accepting a dare to walk out in front of the camera modeling white boxer shorts with hearts printed on them to celebrate Valentine’s Day. And, I must confess, one of my all-time favorite songs is “My Funny Valentine”. So, I can be romantic and celebrate love and take some teasing.
2018 is a special year for love for me personally. This year, Angela and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. Hard to believe! It seems like only yesterday I was traveling down the highway after working an early morning radio shift in Atlanta to marry Angela. The years have slipped by swiftly. Job changes, moves, children and now grandchildren have made the 50-year journey exciting and memorable.
As my own children became adults, it was interesting to see how love and marriage proposals were handled by each of them. All romantic!
My eldest, Whit, who is now a pastor, chose to propose to Wendy in the sanctuary of Marble City Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a student at the University of Tennessee, he was serving as the part-time church youth pastor.
They had planned a trip home to Middle Tennessee, and Whit told Wendy he needed to run by the church to get his guitar. Whit is a good musician and was writing songs at the time. As they walked around the church, he picked up a guitar and began singing a song he had written for Wendy. The song was the prelude to his asking her to marry him. Whit had already talked with Wendy’s dad and had told us his plan. Through tears, Wendy said yes!
Daughter Caroline had been dating a boy from Athens, Georgia, for some time, and we knew a proposal would be coming soon. A nervous Philip arrived at our home one evening and asked if he could speak with me privately in our garage. Of course, I knew what was on his mind, and as he struggled to get the words out, I jumped in to help. Relieved, he said “I need to get my gun out of my truck”. Stunned I asked, “What??” The story was that Philip feared getting robbed as he made the trip from Georgia to Tennessee, so he brought his gun along to guard the ring.
Next day, he wanted to take a ride on the Natchez Parkway with Caroline. They often liked to take rides on the parkway when Philip would visit. The memory of the exact location slips both their minds today, but they hiked into an open field along the Parkway where Philip proposed. No gun involved.
Son Andy’s proposal to wife Jenn is one for a good Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan movie. Jenn was in New Orleans to spend Thanksgiving with her family and was upset that Andy did not join her as Thanksgiving is a big family reunion event; Andy told her he had no plans for the weekend but didn’t want to make the trip to New Orleans.
Jenn was not at all happy with Andy and was not looking forward to Thanksgiving with the family. The day before Thanksgiving, a miffed Jenn joined her mother, sister and a good friend for lunch at a restaurant in the French Quarter.
When they first started dating four years earlier, Andy and Jenn went down to the French Quarter so she could show him around. There, in Spanish Plaza, is a fountain. At the fountain, they each made a wish and tossed in a coin.
Back to Thanksgiving, as she was having lunch, Jenn got a text message from Andy with a picture of the fountain. The message said, “Remember this?”
Bursting into tears, Jenn raced out of the restaurant running down Canal Street followed by her mother, sister and friend who had no idea what was happening nor why Jenn had dashed out of the restaurant. When she reached the fountain, there was Andy who got down on his knee and asked her to marry him. He told her that when they first visited the fountain four years earlier and tossed the coin into the fountain his wish was that Jenn would someday be his wife.
What Jenn didn’t know is Andy, who you might not think of as romantic, had planned all the details and shared them with Jenn’s mom and dad. He drove all night from Franklin to New Orleans, met with Jenn’s dad in the morning, and was at the fountain at lunch time for the proposal. Needless to say, that Thanksgiving was a big celebration for the Ballard, Gauthreaux and Chapman families.
Celebrating love and romance is a part of who we are. We really don’t need flowers, a card or a box of candy to remind us … although those things are a really nice way to show our love. A song, a place or a moment is all we need.