Dating 101: Happy Valentine’s Day

I love Valentine’s Day. It is a commercial holiday and has no real importance, but I love it. It is a day to celebrate love and that matters. I always get a little something for my son, and I have all the cards he made for me over the years. He is the love of my life and marking the day is something I like to do. I don’t have a romantic Valentine this year. I thought I would, but it didn’t work out. He knows who he is, he knows how I feel, and a piece of my heart hopes he will make a grand gesture today. That is the magic of Valentine’s Day.

By magic of course I mean there is no magic involved and I am waiting for something that won’t happen, so in the end I am buying into the lie that is Valentine’s Day and setting myself up for disappointment. Here’s the thing though, I believe in love every day, not just on this day, and so I have hope. I trust I will find it, and know it will be great when I do. I am going to be 48 years old this year and some days I think it won’t happen, but then I meet people who inspire me and remind me to never give up on love. Please meet Jerri and Ray.

Jerri is 88 years old and Ray is 93. They live at the Los Angeles Jewish Home, and they have found love. Ray and Jerri ate in the dining hall at tables next to each other. When they spotted each other there was in instant interest. They would chat and eventually ate together, went for walks together, and got to know each other. Jerri says they started off by liking and respecting each other. Over time they fell in love and now on the 8th of each month they celebrate their anniversary. Jerri says at their age each month is worth commemorating.

They have been together for 8 months and now live together. Yup, Jerri and Ray are shacking up at the Jewish home. This couple is so cute I can hardly stand it. I was very lucky to speak with Jerri and Ray and you can actually hear and see the magic they have. Ray is 6’2” and Jerri says she looks up to him literally and figuratively. She calls him her gentle giant. She is petite and as she looks up with admiration, he looks down at her with love, wanting to swoop her up. It is all very romantic and makes my somewhat jaded and bitter heart want to keep looking.

Jerri has been married 3 times, for 27 years, 25 years, and 10 years.  All of her husbands sadly passed away. Ray was married one time, for 71 years. To have found each other now is a blessing and Jerri says each day is a gift from God. They have no plans to marry. These crazy kids are just going to live together and enjoy every moment they have. They were not looking for love, it just happened. Sometimes you just get lucky I guess. They have been blessed with love throughout their lives. but somehow this love seems just a little more special.

This will be the last great love of their lives and that is both romantic and heartbreaking. I asked Ray to tell me three words that best described Jerri and he chose gorgeous, intelligent, and kind. When I asked Jerri for three words about Ray, she chose loving, patient, and gentle, then immediately told me three words were not enough. She said she could not ask for a better friend to spend the rest of her life with. It was not expected, happened rather quickly, and is the greatest thing to happen to her. Ray said they work because her needs are his and his are hers.

They don’t argue. Jerri says it is because they communicate. They talk things through, then let them go. They laugh every day, appreciate each other, are grateful to have found each other, and know they are lucky. Ray said when in a room of 100 people, she is the only person he sees. Jerri beams when she listens to Ray speak and it is touching. They both agree that no two people are 100% the same and so when you can appreciate the differences and understand how lucky one must be to find love, everything else falls into place.

I felt like I was talking to teenagers who are giddy about their first love. They have perfect timing and to hear them speak is like a dance. They match perfectly, laugh at all the same things, and there is geniune affection, but also a sense of wonder. They seem honestly surprised to have found love at this stage of their lives. They make me want to find love. Not any love, but the kind of love that makes each day matter. What a blessing to be able to live out your life knowing you make another person's heart sing and God smile.

Instead of feeling sad I am without love this Valentine’s Day, I will think about Jerri and Ray and know love is coming for me. I suppose it is possible I could die alone with 18 cats. Perhaps one day I’ll live at the Los Angeles Jewish Home and spend my days scoping out a dashing man to be my Valentine. Or maybe I will simply get lucky one day and a man will open his heart and see me. That’s the thing about love, you find it by seeing with your heart, not your eyes. Jerri and Ray show us what love looks like and remind us to keep the faith.