One more year, one more kiss

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

Sometimes, love doesn’t require words. In fact, despite the thousands of romance novels that sit on the shelves of grocery stores across the nation, true love is nearly impossible to capture with words.

Art galleries are full of paintings and photographs of people kissing — of people in love. Never have I seen kissing-art or love-art accompanied by a written explanation. You don’t need an explanation for love. There may not be such words. True love lives in those regions of our brain and our heart where thoughts blur and words get lost.

They say that there is a flash on the horizon, on the edge of the sea, when the sitting sun moves from the range of visible light to the distant glow of a sun that has already disappeared beyond view. Very few people have ever captured the moment of that flash in a photograph or a painting. Such is love.

Imagine this moment.

The couple stood facing each other. He was slightly taller than her. He didn’t tower over her, but he had to bend slightly for their lips to meet. She looked up into his eyes. He lowered his eyes to meet hers. His hands had been on her shoulders, but he slowly moved them up to cradle her face. He held her gently as their lips met. It was a kiss filled with gentleness. It was a kiss filled with sweetness, familiarity and love.

There was no real passion in this kiss. It was better than that. It was a kiss of true love.

What you don’t see in the moment of their kiss is her aluminum walker. You don’t see his cane or his hearing aids. After over 70 years together, they not only embrace … they steady each other.

Mom is wearing a nightgown and those stretchy, two-sided slippers you get in a hospital emergency room. The kind that are blue/green and have matching slip-proof tread on both sides. Mom had just been released from the emergency room. She had been having a lot of back pain. Dad was trying to steady Mom and help her get into their recliner, so she could be slight more comfortable; maybe get some sleep.

Dad is 88 years old. Mom is 87. We have dozens of family pictures hanging on the living room walls. One of the old black and white photos that I really like, shows Mom and Dad as teenagers in love. They are standing on top of a low wall. The background is filled with plants and trees.

Mom is dressed in a white, lacy dress. Dad is wearing all black. She is leaning back into his arms. Her head tilts back as Dad kisses her. This kiss is much more amorous than the recent kiss they shared following Mom’s release from the hospital. This was a kiss filled with youth, passion and love.

It’s good to know that the passion from 70 years ago has not disappeared, but it has softened over the years. What remains today is a steadfast love that has endured decades of trials. Despite the challenges and hardships, Mom and Dad have endured; their love not only endured, it grew stronger.

Debbie and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this past week. On that special Wednesday evening, I enjoyed a really good taste of Irish whiskey while reclining in my overstuffed Pappy-chair watching Survivor on TV. It was a quiet, relaxing, thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Debbie? She was in Siesta Key on her annual October girls-trip to Florida. Those five ladies are closer than sisters. They have been playing bridge and taking their annual fall trip together for over 25 years.

We decided long ago that Debbie’s annual trip with her girlfriends is not only important; it’s vital. I know that living with me cannot always be easy. (I know that’s hard to believe, but I fear it’s true.)

Debbie’s girl-trips help her keep her head on straight. I love those ladies for what they do for my wife. The joy, laughter and friendship they share is valuable beyond compare.

Every year that we have been married, near our anniversary, Debbie and I will go out to dinner and, at some point, we vote to see if we’re going to stay together for another year.

It’s always a humorous conversation. We always find some goofy reason for staying together one more year.

One year, I told her that I couldn’t trust her to water the plants, so I’d stick around to do that. Now, we can’t agree on who would have first visitation rights with the grandchildren, so we always decide to give it one more year. Then we clink our glasses together and say, “OK, here’s to one more year.”

We will need 40 more years before we catch up with Mom and Dad. We know we will never live that long, but I pray that, for the remainder of our years together, we will always have the tenderness and love that I saw in that kiss my parents shared.

I’ll always be willing to stay one more year, just so we can share one more kiss.

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist