It is Valentine’s Day. My wife, Brenda, and I have plans to begin our evening with a quiet candlelight dinner. We will share with each other those special thoughts, those heartfelt feelings, and speak of things that warm our hearts and souls.
We will talk about the good times. We will easily remember our trip to Harper’s Ferry when we walked for an hour in the rain, and bought ice cream in the little country store. We might speak of our night on Broadway in New York City on New Year’s Eve, when we ate at the little neighborhood delicatessen.
Then we might ask, “Do you remember the time we attended a concert by a famous singer and we saw him cry as he sang a love song?” We learned the following day that his wife of thirty years had just filed for divorce.
We will also laugh, because laughter binds us together. A few years ago we recall our neighbors in Staunton, Virginia entrusting the care of their prized toy poodle, ‘Lucky’, with us while they traveled. “We never worry when ‘Lucky’ stays with you,” they said. “We know you would never let anything happen to our little guy.” We never had the heart to tell them that earlier that morning ‘Lucky’ had jumped out of our car window as we left the downtown area. Thankfully, he was okay.
We might then recall the time our own little poodle, ‘Doc,’ though uninvited showed-up at our neighbor’s outdoor wedding. When we located him, the caterer smiled as he told us Doc had eaten all of the deviled eggs when the chef had turned his back in the kitchen.
Our conversation will drift back to all the times we’ve stood strong for each other, at funerals, during those long hours of surgery, and more. We will talk about how we left a place we loved in Virginia to return home to family and friends. We’re likely to reminisce about the loss of our dear pets over the years, and how we spent the nights beside the fire talking about the pleasure they’ve brought us.
We will talk about the times when we stood together when the politics went sour, or maybe just those nights when we needed someone to listen when our hearts were breaking.
Sometimes words aren’t necessary. Sometimes it’s just enough to be together to help the worry of the world fade away.
Sometimes we just need to say we are sorry. Brenda will say she remembers the special Valentine’s Day performance many years ago with Richard Harris in Camelot. He sang a song that night that I sometimes sing to her. She never complains that my singing is off-key or flat. The song begins, “How to handle a woman? There’s a way, said the wise old man. A way known by every woman since the whole rigmarole began. Do I brood or play the gay romancer? Said he smiling, No indeed. Mark me well, I will tell you, Sir: The way to handle a woman is to love her. Simply love her.”
Yes, Brenda and I will enjoy reflecting on the passing years recalling our special memories of those years together. We know life is short. Life is not without trials, and the past year has given us a few crosses to bear.
In closing, at the risk of sounding cliché, there are no words to express the words of appreciation due my wife. She has stood strong beside me during the most difficult times. We each have been on both sides of victory, and we can always count on being there for each other. We lock those moments tightly inside our hearts.
Tomorrow we will continue a tradition. We will watch Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains in the movie, Casablanca.
Quietly watching as they walk-off into the mist and fog at the airport and Bogart says, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
I know that feeling well. Brenda is my very best friend.
Patrick Haley currently serves as a county commissioner in Clinton County, Ohio, where he lives with his wife Brenda. He has enjoyed a distinguished career in the fields of law enforcement, criminal justice, government and business, and was elected as Sheriff of Clinton County, Ohio, in 1980, serving two four-year terms. He was Chief Deputy Sheriff of Henrico County, Virginia, served in Governor Jim Gilmore’s administrtion, and worked on the personal staff of Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte. He served as President of Integrated Biometric Technology (IBT), Nashville, before returning to Ohio. He has attended the FBI Academy’s Professional Law Enforcement Administration Program, in association with the University of Virginia, and attended the FBI Academy’s Senior Management Program at Quantico, Wright State University, Hocking College and Mary Baldwin College in Staunton. Pat is an author and presenter on issues related to organizational change and law enforcement accreditation and has been published in the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Virginia Criminal Intelligence Association Magazine, “The Validator.” A published author, Pat wrote “The Danes Murders: Lost Innocence in Lees Creek,” a non-fiction account of the murder of a Clinton County family, and recently released his second book, “The Storyteller: Growing up in Clinton County, Ohio.”