For those who missed this post last year, here is the updated version:
This Valentine's Day my wife and I celebrate nineteen wonderful years together . . . we also celebrate the releasing of our nineteenth balloon.
Let me explain, we’d been dating only a few weeks when Valentine's Day was approaching. I bought flowers, candy, and a beautiful card for her . . . she bought a rose and a huge helium-filled balloon for me.
We decided to meet at a local grocery store parking lot before going out to eat. In the parking lot, she handed me the rose and balloon, except I thought the balloon’s string was tied to the rose, and she thought that I had a hold of the string and rose. We both watched helplessly as the balloon rose slowly out of sight. It was at that moment I asked her to "go steady" with me . . . fortunately she said yes.
Every Valentine's Day since, we have made our way to a grocery store parking lot to release a balloon into the sky. With this tradition we have turned a blunder into a celebrated moment.
Since then, we have released balloons from various states, and have been so busy at times we were forced to make a special effort to even continue the tradition. In 1999, balloon number seven was released in the middle of a hectic week of packing as we were moving from one city to another. Balloon number six was the very first to be released outside our native state of West Virginia, and on February 13, 1996, my wife's father passed away after only one week in the hospital . . . the next day we tearfully released balloon number four.
So, what have I learned in eighteen years? Well, I’ve learned that true love is not about flowers, candy, gifts, or even balloons. I’ve learned it’s not about possessions, wealth, youth, or power. I’ve learned that tough times are par for the course, but the course always gets smoother if you just keep playing. I also discovered it’s not always about me.
But more importantly, I’ve learned that true love really comes with no strings attached.
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