A Valentine's Day Tribute To Love

Globe and Mail
, Feb 14, 2002

Austin Repath

Like many other men, I have loved a woman for a great many years.  Like some others, I have had the good fortune to have that loved returned.  And as best I can without sounding too sentimental or maudlin, I’d like  to tell you about it.

        Just as I begin, I tell my wife what I am writing about, and she tells me to include all the difficult times.  I get angry because I want to celebrate the good times that stand out against the bad times, and make the whole thing magical.  But that’s just one viewpoint.  Mine. Already I can feel myself off on a tangent that is central to our relationship.  Being a Persephone, willing to live in the dark world, she has no difficulty with the dark moment.  I, unable to tolerate such depths, want to sing of our days in the sunshine.
        Let me begin again.  Everyone enjoys a roaring fire, but the fires that, in my mind, are best are those that have died down a bit and glow deeply, giving off a greater warmth.  Which is my way of saying that the colour and light of our romantic years have mellowed into something that is as rich and pleasurable as a late summer afternoon.
        We sit at opposite ends of our old comfortable couch, which we should have replaced long ago.
I think of it as sitting in opposite ends of a canoe, distant and safe from the wild creatures that prowl the shoreline. We turn off the television set, refuse to answer the telephone, and talk with each other, of dreams the night before, of daytime angst and hurts, and other seemingly trivial things.  I think of two animals preening each other, combing the other’s fur and scratching out of reach places.
        Sometimes she reads, and I watch her, happy in her presence.  Or, more honestly delighting in her presence as I watch her, unobserved.  So simple a thing, perhaps too
ordinary, but for me, as I look across at the row of candles burning on the mantel over the fireplace, I am truly in love, and filled with such a deep contentment and joy that I feel I am about to become maudlin.
        In bed, of course, there are intimate moments of pleasure when I feel like a teen-ager about to feast on earthly delights.  But most times there is simply the evening ritual of whispering to the other the question du nuit: “Huggee or hugger?”  And we fall asleep front to back or back to front, depending on the whim of the moment, and drift off in that bliss of falling asleep in the arms of the beloved.
        And there are the not infrequent trips to a local bistro where we enter into the drama of the rendezvous.  I arrive early.  Always early, to sip a glass of wine and wait in eager anticipation for her arrival.  Such an exquisite waiting!  Will she come?  Will she be happy to see me?  Have I worn the right shirt?  The foreplay of the rendezvous is climaxed by her appearance in the doorway.  God, what a beautiful woman, I think to myself, and rise to greet her with a kiss, to be rewarded by her breathtaking smile.
        And that brings to mind her laugh.  Such a laugh!  I feel like I’ve won a lottery every time I make her laugh.
         I know I need to stop, but I can’t, not now.  There are times, and I can’t predict them... Once when we were watching a sunset, I turned to her.  Once when we were at a wedding, I  saw her face.  Once when she was weeding in the garden, she looked at me. At those times her features take on a radiance, like I am seeing the beauty of her soul. Or is it simply the sheer radiance of her being?  Or am I seeing her through the eyes of a lover?
        For that moment I know beyond all doubt that I am one of the luckiest men in the world. I have been blessed with one of life’s greatest gifts.  I love this women in ways I was never able to twenty years ago, and somehow I sense there is still more to this thing called love -- more that will unfold in the years ahead.
        I look up and there she is standing with beckoning arms, and we dance out through the kitchen, down the hall and back again.  And I am suddenly transported back to the old Palais Royale, where I met her -- and discovered we danced together like I couldn’t with anyone else.

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email:  thepilgrim@look.ca