Love Stories – Reader’s Inspiration (Part I)
by Sean E. Brotherson

A little over a week ago I encouraged you to consider the power of stories that teach us about love, and to share your own stories that “illuminate love and what it can and should be.” What a response! I hope you join us as I share with you what you have so generously shared with me: lessons in love.

Hidden Gems

Many of you sent me precious stories of lifelong love, stories that reflected the love shared over a lifetime in marriage by grandparents, parents, or yourselves. I hope you type out the stories you have shared and send them to your family members at this time of year. Let them also celebrate the love stories that have blessed your family life.

As I read through your many stories of love and commitment, I noticed that embedded within many of them were particular moments that shone out like hidden gems of love. These were moments that highlighted love in action, love in its myriad beauties. Those hidden gems are the stories I’d like to share today. Sit back and enjoy.

“He is Currently Deployed”

From Carolyn Ricker.

My husband is in the Army. He is currently deployed. We keep in daily contact through e-mails and phone calls and an occasional rare treat, the video teleconference call. We go in to the briefing room at the base, and he is there and we are there. We cannot hug each other, but only share tears at the sight of each other’s much loved faces. He is looking great, I am a little frazzled because I have brought the children with me. For ten minutes, we talk carefully as the satellite cuts out if we talk at once. The children get their turn and then I have mine. What can we say when there is an observer in the room? Just that we love each other. Ten minutes? That is all we are allotted. Ten minutes? An eternity when you haven’t seen each other in three months…

During the time up until he deployed, we took each day as if it would be our last. Not one cross word was spoken, and we learned so much about the language of love…spouse to spouse, parent to child, one child to another. When he did leave, we all shed tears. We know he will be back safe and sound, but the love and the blessing that it brought to us is something that we don’t want to take for granted, and so we are continuing that legacy.

“The Little Sacrifices”

This gem from a female reader, married 24 years.

I want to tell you of my wonderful husband who sacrifices all the time for his family–some big sacrifices and some little. To me, the little sacrifices are more telling of one’s love–when they occur regularly, as they do with my husband. This is because it means he’s thinking about me that much and that often.

I broke my leg skiing when we were in college, and I was laid up for the first week or so because of the pain. He took me miniature golfing in a wheelchair and then wheeled me all the way home. I couldn’t believe I could have so much fun when I was in that much pain! Then he got a terrible case of strep throat but still stayed by my side when I got sick due to side effects of the broken leg, and he never complained.

“I Will Be There”

From Debbie Kiss, married 19 years.

I was head over heels in love with Peter and had been dating him for a couple of weeks when I knew how serious we were both feeling. I knew there was something I had to talk to him about but was afraid – would he leave me? I have multiple sclerosis and had been in and out of a wheelchair already (I was diagnosed at 18). I was afraid that once he found out I was “less than perfect” he would leave for someone better. But we sat down together and I told him, knowing the possibilities. He turned to me, held my hand and looked into my eyes as he said, “Deb, if you are going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life, I am going to be there to push it.” I knew I could never be with anyone else.

Since then I have been in and out of wheelchairs and he has been there to carry me and to push the chairs. . . . We have suffered our share of hardships, but we have done it all together and still look to our future together. I love him more today than I did on the day I married him, and the first thing I do when I wake up is say a prayer of thanks to the Lord for my husband and my children.

“Until We Hear a Whistle”

From Dennis Martin.

Years ago my wife and accidentally worked out a solution to the problem of getting separated in a store as I am accompanying her when shopping (usually reluctantly). One of us will wander along, making a very flat-sounding whistle, because that is the best we can do, until we hear a whistle come back. That way, I am more willing to venture into the scary unknowable world of shopping. It is great because we have found that after 35 years of doing most things together, some of our favorite things to do are to shop together in Mexico and in antique stores. Our love for each other has thus grown stronger.

“Flip a Love Sign”

From Jan Bird.

Most of our children, and my husband, know American Sign Language. I do not–except for the “I Love You” sign. This simple sign has been a sort of sign that we give to one another as somebody leaves in their car. My husband and I “flip a love you sign” as he leaves for work and meetings–even if we know that we might not be able to see each other, we still do it. It was interesting, when he has been in a bishopric, to see the many ways he found to “flip a love sign” to his family sitting in the congregation. One other “thing” we do as a family, and as husband and wife, is to give a gentle hand squeeze. Three squeezes = I love you. The person receiving squeezes back twice = me too. Then the first person squeezes back one time = ditto. As my health fails, due to MS, I have begun to realize how very important those two “signs” have become.

As long as I can speak, and even after, we can always trade signs.

“Just the Honeymoon”

From Lisa Odaffer.

When I was single I used to work as a receptionist in the temple on Wednesday nights. While there, I got to know certain regulars who came at the same time every week…One favorite of all the sisters on my shift was an average-looking, gray-haired gentleman about seventy or seventy-five years old. He always made a point to say hello to all the receptionists by name as he came in. Later, he lingered at the front desk for ten or fifteen minutes before he left, just visiting.

One night near closing time I happened to be there when he stopped to talk. As a way of making conversation, I commented on his fish tie–the kind that looks like a whole fish hanging around your neck. It was the sort of silly thing a teenager might wear. It seemd a little out of place on a grandpa. He grinned when I asked him about it. He told me his wife bought it for him because he loved to fish. That got him telling me about how much he loved his wife. Apparently, in the last year or so, she had taken pretty ill. She couldn’t get out of bed by herself anymore. He took over all of the cooking and cleaning. She needed his help just to get dressed or go to the bathroom. He read to her, played games, and kept her company for most of the day. He grinned and told me after fifty years of letting her take care of him, spending his days by her bedside was the least he could do to show her how much he loved her. On Wednesday nights, someone from the Relief Society came to sit with her while he slipped out to the Temple. Except for grocery shopping, he said it was the only time he got out of the house all week.

Then he gave me a cute, little old man kind of wink and said, “We’re just newlyweds, you know.” Amused at my confusion, my new friend explained, “We’re married for time and all eternity. So you see, fifty years is just the honeymoon.” With that, he winked at me again, said good night, and headed on home to his sweetheart.

“Living Perfection”

From Richard and Valoie Nelson.

We are completing our 29th year of marriage. Our bishop asked my husband to teach a marriage class for the ward. Our class was filled with newlyweds. One day he handed out paper to everyone (including me). He asked us to write down the one thing that we wished our spouse would change. We were to discuss it the next day at Family Home Evening. I thought about this and quickly wrote that I wished he would lose some weight. The next night I handed him my paper and he handed me his. I fell in love with him all over again when I read: “I don’t want you to change anything. You are perfect the way you are!”

“A Valentine’s Day Gift”

From Emily Stallings.

Years ago when I worked at a hospital in the medical records department, I was transcribing a surgical note one evening a day or two before Valentine’s Day. An 87-year old man had just been admitted for surgery on his ankle after having slipped and fallen on the ice. When asked why he was out so late in the evening, he replied he had gone to the store to get his wife a Valentine and had slipped on the pavement. All of us in medical records were huddled around my computer screen, reading this sweet old man’s account of how he wanted to get his wife something for Valentine’s Day and ended up in the hospital for it. We were all wondering if our own husbands would remember Valentine’s Day when they were 87 years old!

Love’s Little Moments

I selected these hidden gems among your stories because they represented so well love’s little moments,’ those experiences that reflect the power and poignancy of genuine love and affection. They represent what love can and should be. I think the magnificence of love as reflected in the example of Jesus, our Savior, can perhaps be seen most often in such little moments.

As we celebrate Valentine’s today, remind yourself to reach for the little moments. While writing this column a few days ago I happened to simultaneously be working on making a portion of one pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream disappear – my wife’s favorite. I ate a bite. I read about love’s little moments. I ate another bite. I thought of my wife. I ate another bite. A little moment – perhaps she would enjoy those last seven or eight bites. The Ben and Jerry’s is back in the freezer. After all, it is going to be Valentine’s Day.

Stay tuned for more love stories.