Love doesn't come in a heart-shaped box

"So imagine that the lovely moon is playing just for you — everything makes music if you really want it to."

— Giles Andreae

For a second I thought I was visiting Barbie in her dream house as I approached the Valentine's Day section at Fred Meyer. An enveloping aura of pink and red love tokens mesmerized every sense.

My heart's fancy turned to spring with the heavenly scent of fresh flower bouquets and potted blooms. Stacks of chocolate candy boxes spoke of outpourings of love and affection, while balloons bobbed aloft like hopeful Mylar Cupids, arrows at the ready.

Ah, love? It's in the air. One ageless example is here in Eagle Point.

When Lauren (the family calls him Dick) Dover married Georgia Gateley, Harry Truman was president, only one million American homes had a black-and-white television, and at 13, Elvis Presley's voice was changing. Last December, the Dovers celebrated 65 years of marriage, the "'til death do us part" variety.

Dick and Georgia are my dear uncle and aunt. They've called the Rogue Valley home for most of their lives together, since 1956. There were rutted roads (and floods) along the way, because none of us escapes life or marriage without scars and bruises. The two spoke vows of commitment and shared pitfalls and joys alike. Over time, a knitting together takes place with a union like theirs.

When I asked my wonderful, practical Aunt Georgia how she knew Uncle Dick was the right one, she answered, "I was happy he'd been in the service."

WWII was just three years past. Having served denoted good character and honor — traits important to her.

I asked her what she loved about him and she replied, "His intelligence."

She added, "He's faithful and always had a job."

Practical is good.

And when I asked her whether there was anything in his appearance that drew her, she said, as if it was obvious, "Oh, yeah, he was good looking!"

I've observed love with its sleeves rolled up and passed to the next generation. I consider Cousin Randy, down from Bend to help care for his dad, a man's man. He and his wife, Julie, have been married more than 30 years. He told me that Julie, or "Scoots," as he calls her, was the only girl he dated who showed appreciation for what he did for her.

Seems like plain good manners to me.

He also added, "She's my best friend. No doubt about it."

She's also his equal business partner. And they both enjoy "Downton Abbey." Just thought I'd throw that out there.

I'm a capital R Romantic. I've likely watched too many movies with perfect endings, but we don't see what happens beyond the credits, and love is far more than feelings that wax and wane. Love doesn't come in a heart-shaped box, but takes the shape of a whole person.

Now that Uncle Dick — after 95 years of active duty — is confined to his easy chair, the care shown from cousins Linda (and Tom) Cail and Tom Dover is touching and real, obviously homegrown and as thrivey-do (Aunt Georgia's word) as their annual vegetable garden.

We celebrate love. Deep down, we crave it, and yet overall we seem somewhat inept at doing authentic love. Giving more and expecting less may result in getting more than we hoped. Often, the counter-intuitive responses reap a better reward.

I asked Dick what he loved about Georgia. I still tear up at the memory and the sound of his voice when he answered without hesitation, "Just about everything."

Buy the hearts and candy. Forgive and forget. Dance your girl under the full moon this Valentine's Day. Love does make the world (and the moon) go around, and this life is a fading flower, but love goes on and on.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer who works from a 1900 farmhouse in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.


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