Today is Valentine’s Day. ❤ It’s also the 39th anniversary of my in-laws.
I love these two more than they’ll ever know. But they also don’t know that one small interaction between the two of them impacted me so deeply that it caused me to have more love for their relationship, more love for them as individuals, and more love for their son.
Jay and I will celebrate our 13th anniversary later this year, and we’ve experienced our share of ups and downs. Our biggest arguments were always centered around children – mainly whether or not we were ready to have them (I was, he wasn’t so sure). We’ve disagreed with the best ways to spend our money (he’s a genius at this, so I usually defer to him), struggled with infertility (it took us just over 16 months to get pregnant with Julia), and loss (both of Jay’s grandfathers passed within the same year). We’ve seen each other at our best – and our worst. We’ve done sickness and health. I don’t handle sickness very well – Jay’s or mine – which is usually when he sees me at my worst. 😀
Pam and Woody, my in-laws, have never been an outwardly lovey-dovey pair. They are affectionate with each other, for sure – a kiss here, a backrub there. They laugh and catch each other’s eye when out together at a restaurant. They vacation together and support each other’s aspirations. But they don’t always hold hands or giggle or finish each other’s sentences or anything like that. I’ve actually seen them disagree (usually about mundane details like the last movie they saw or the name of the guy that installed their windows) more than I’ve seen them smooch. Jay and his father are ridiculously alike, and Pam and I have had many fabulous “you’re-not-the-only-wife-going-through-this” conversations where we vent about our handsome hubbies. My mother-in-law is a strong, no-nonsense woman; my father-in-law a hardworking goofball. Their marriage isn’t perfect, and although their expressions of love are subtle, it’s plainly evident how strong their love for each other really is.
I’ve watched their interactions for the past 14 years. In all this time, one singular moment in their marriage stands out to me more than any other: watching my strong, no-nonsense mother-in-law patiently feel spoonfuls of ice to my father-in-law. Such a small, silly thing, but it touched me more deeply than any other act of love I’d witnessed in my life.
Let me give you a little backstory to that spoonful of ice. Exactly a year ago, Pam and Woody were in London celebrating their 38th anniversary when Woody stepped into a pothole in the street and fell, causing multiple and severe injuries to his ankle and leg. They ended up spending the rest of their vacation in a London hospital, the doctors doing what they could to ease his pain while Pam and Woody waited to fly home so that he could have his injuries cared for back here in the states. Soon after they arrived, my father-in-law had the surgeries necessary to put him on the slow road to recovery. The girls and I went to visit him in the hospital, and that’s when I saw Pam spoon-feeding him the ice.
In that moment, I saw what true love is all about. My father-in-law was nothing short of a mess in that hospital bed – unshaven, unable to sit up, completely groggy from the pain meds. My beautiful mother-in-law was gently giving him ice. He was looking right into her eyes with nothing but gratitude and adoration. There wasn’t an ounce of no-nonsense in her, not a drop of goofiness in him. It was a side of their relationship I’d never seen before. I know that Woody would probably have been happier if I hadn’t seen him like that, and at first I was a little uncomfortable myself. But I’m so thankful I did witness this almost private moment between them. It was beautiful, and that image has remained with me over the past year.
Today is Valentine’s Day. ❤ Pam and Woody are celebrating their 39th anniversary today. My parents will be celebrating their 37th anniversary later this month. Jay and I will be celebrating 13 years this June. Love takes many forms and looks like many things, and I pray that even my most ordinary actions towards Jay reflect the depth of love I saw in that one small spoonful of ice.
*** Photos by Linda Benedict Photography ***