This Sunday will mark our 50th Valentine’s Day, and looking back on all the other Valentine’s Days, I’ll consider this one more special than any other.

Aside from feeling like I’m one of the luckiest guys on the planet, because my wife is truly the love of my life and a very special person, I believe these past 50 years for us have been filled with all sorts of celebrations and experiences — two beautiful daughters, wonderful family and friends, two bat mitzvahs, the unexpected Valentine’s Day wedding of our younger daughter to her soulmate, Gervasio, the nearly 70-year marriage of my parents before Mom’s death in 2012 and my dad’s new relationship with Bernice, who is also his age of 95.

All of these reflections are the fabric of a quilt of life that only gets better. And the really neat thing about that life fabric is that hasn’t been cut from some store pattern. It has been more like — as we quilters know — a haphazard pattern that has been “fussy cut” in all shapes and directions.

What will my wife and I do on Valentine’s Day? Since I’ll probably have to work at my bookstore job, I will add a deeper message to the neat Valentine’s Day card I’ve already purchased, offer my wife a bouquet of roses and whisk her off to one of our favorite restaurants, Vazzy’s, barely five minutes from where we live and split a great cut of prime rib. After dinner, we’ll return home to a mindless Hallmark romance movie and try to visualize ourselves as those young lovers. We can dream, can’t we?

As for gifts, “What about jewelry or a day at the spa or a day of Valentine’s shopping for her?” some friends may ask. “Come on, man, where is your romantic spark?”

“It’s still bright,” I would answer. But truth be told, I don’t buy my wife jewelry anymore because our tastes don’t always match and I hate to see a beautiful and expensive piece of fine jewelry sit in a drawer. Believe me, guys, I’ve tried. And a romantic gift card from the jeweler is just too tacky a Valentine’s Day gift.

A facial has worked much better than a day at the spa and my wife feels truly pampered. If I top that off with a manicure/pedicure, she has truly died and gone to heaven. As for shopping, my wife simply hates trying on clothes. She truly doesn’t see the beauty I see, so these days, I’ve become her personal shopper. If I’m in a store like Macy’s, Penney’s, Kohl’s or Marshall’s and something that is her style and size strikes me between now and Sunday, I’ll likely buy it.

My wife’s real favorite Valentine or anytime gift, as she has explained to me countless times, would be a gift card to Joanne Fabrics or Close to Home in the Milford/Orange area and a dark chocolate candy bar. I know that doesn’t sound romantic, but those gifts have always been the way to my wife’s heart.

Fifty Valentine’s Days later, I like to feel that the love and romance we have is deeper, strengthened by the crises and challenges we’ve faced as a couple and the joy we’ve experienced. Someone once asked my wife what she believed to be the most romantic moment we’ve shared and her answer surprised me and filled my eyes with tears.

She said that the moment came for her early one morning at the hospital in a Chicago suburb after she had miscarried a baby. I arrived a little before 6 a.m., bringing nothing more than myself. She was sleeping and when she stirred I was holding her hand and stroking her hair. We held each other for a long time and I knew we’d eventually be blessed with the child we both wanted. She said that visit meant so much. It’s those little things that become the Valentine’s you cherish.

There have been so many other little moments and times that have made our lives together so special, but I can only think of a few with my feeble brain. One came just two days after my wife had suffered a mild heart attack. She was released in time for our anniversary and was absolutely thrilled to be out for dinner celebrating. We texted or e-mailed everyone we could with pictures. That night was one we’ll always cherish.

I know every couple has their own way of celebrating and my only advice is to savor each celebration and make it special. That’s what we’ve learned over this long journey.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at