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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Most Romantic Gesture Ever

As my noodler buddies know, I am a new aunt. I was lucky enough to help my sister and her husband at the birth of their son last week. I saw a lot of love in that labor and delivery room—my brother-in-law fanning my sister, taking no offense at her criticism of his lower back massage during back labor, and despite a squeamish nature, he encouraged her to push when she was exhausted—romantic gestures all. He’s definitely got the stuff heroes are made of.

Being in that hospital room brought back memories of my own daughter’s birth and her early months with colic, when I thought I was doing everything wrong. Of course, to my husband and everyone around me, I was superwoman, capable of handling a newborn, a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s, and anything else life threw my way. A romantic gesture then was my husband picking up Chinese take-out on the way home from work or a walk through the neighborhood, baby in snugli or stroller. I so appreciated the little gestures.

At that time, the last thing I wanted was to vent to my husband about how overwhelmed I felt. Didn’t he have enough on his plate? As an only child whose father passed away before I met him, Wes was coming to terms with his mother’s diagnosis and rapid mental deterioration. He was the one who brought her to and from the neurologist. He's the one who calmed her down when she became inconsolable. He's the one who put her back to bed when she wandered the house screaming "Is Anybody Here?" at night.
Needless to say, the first year of our daughter’s life wasn’t the idyllic picture either one of us had imagined. Who ever thinks they’ll be grinding up Halodol and slipping it into their mother-in-law’s food to keep her from becoming violent in between feedings? Another trauma--wandering. I knew toddlers wandered away from their moms, but I hadn’t thought my mother-in-law would. But there I was one day, baby strapped into the grocery cart, searching the aisles of Kroger because I’d leaned down to grab a container or raisins and my mother-in-law was gone. And I might add, strangers had the nerve to look at me like I was negligent—you know, that disapproving glare that makes you feel lower than dirt. When I told my husband about these incidents, I’d leave out the parts that might make him feel guilty. And we both tried to find as much humor in the situation as we could. All romantic gestures in my opinion.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 1996. I had survived almost a year and a half providing care and love for my daughter while also caring for my mother-in-law. I was so emotionally exhausted I don’t even think I knew it was Valentine’s Day. So I started my day as I probably always will—making coffee, or as I sometimes think of it—brewing the elixir of the gods. Only on this particular day, there was a piece of paper folded up on the stack of filters. I opened it and saw my husband’s nearly illegible scribble. “I Love You” it said. I know I must have smiled. When we dated, he’d leave me funny romantic notes—once under the windshield of my Dodge Colt. As I was about to place the filter in the cone, I spied another note. It also said, “I love you.” There were several others placed in spots that were part of my routine. The last one said, "Happy Valentine's Day." Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but, to me, Wes’s notes were the most romantic gesture ever. They showed me what we sometimes said as a refrain rather than as an expression of feeling. Those written words also revealed his understanding. He knew some days were beyond hard, that I took on the responsibility because I loved him. He also knew me and my coffee habit so well, there was no question about where he should place the first surprise!

I still have those slips of paper, as well as all the cards and notes he’s given me over the years of dating and marriage, which includes a homemade pink construction paper valentine I received three years ago.

How about you? What was the most romantic gesture ever extended toward you or from you?
Maureen Hardegree's humorous short stories are included in BelleBooks' Southern Story collections and Mossy Creek series. You can download a free Valentine's Day story, Be Mime, written by Maureen from the BelleBooks' website.

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At 1:31 PM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

Mo -

What a great story. And that baby is so sweet. How nice to be there to share in the birth.

At 1:59 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

I have to admit I'm a little biased, but my nephew is adorable! Glad you enjoyed the story, too.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Janga said...

You and your DH are heroic! I know from experience the stress of caring for an Alzheimer's patient. I can't imagine that stress combined with the sleep deprivation and sometime terror of being a new parent. Your story certainly shows that love is both something you do and something you say. I salute you.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Ladyhawk said...

Congrats and it's a small world, Mo H. My niece gave birth to her first, a son, last week also. Her mom (my sister) and her husband tag-teamed in delivery. I love watching how protective he is of her, and listening to her talk about how wonderful he is.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...


That is a terrific story and I agree those are all great romantic gestures. How cute is that baby??? A future heartbreaker in the making.

My late DH was a real romantic. he truly was. But, I think his most romantic gestures were the ones that sent me away for long stretches of time. Kind of strange, isn't it?

When I got accepted to study opera in Salzburg I had decided not to go. I needed to finish my degree, he was in med school, we were so broke and my part-time job helped pay the bills not covered by scholarships,etc. And living and studying in Europe was expensive, even with scholarships and fellowships. We discussed it, but I had made up my mind I was not going. He went right out and bought me a plane ticket. He took me out to dinner, handed me the ticket and said "You have to go. This ain't no dress rehearsal, baby."

And when I was offered a contract to stay, he said the same thing. He always believed in my dreams.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Thanks so much for your kind words.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

It truly is a small world! I feel so honored to have been a part of my nephew's birth. But I also was SO tired, and I didn't even do the hard stuff. After close to 24 hours at the hospital,and my sister, her husband and baby were all fine and heading to a different room, I drove home and slept for three hours. That's the beauty of being an aunt. I get to sleep!

At 11:09 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Your late DH was a wonderful, unselfish man. How fabulous to buy the ticket so you could pursue your dream!


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