Be Still, My Heart!


Pink hearts, bouquets of red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and words of love. What’s not to like about Valentine’s Day – a day for love and romance, and candle-lit dinners for two? It makes me think about some of my favorite (and not-so favorite) love stories that I’ve read or watched at the movies or on TV.

Of course, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s classic tale of forbidden love, is the first that comes to mind – star-crossed lovers, a tragic ending. I happen to like happy endings, so I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites. When I think of love stories, I also think about Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, one of my all-time favorite books. Again, not a happy ending. Scarlett pines for Ashley Wilkes who can never be hers, while the undying love of Rhett Butler was right there all along! When she finally realized that, it was too late. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” says Rhett. How I would love to re-write a happy ending for that story.

One love story that made me burst into tears while reading it was The Notebook, when Noah and Allie die peacefully together, holding hands in a nursing home bed. It was a sad ending, but a hauntingly beautiful love story. I hate to admit it, but I love to watch Jerry Maguire, with its completely corny ending: “You complete me,” he says. “Shut up. You had me at hello,” says Dorothy Boyd. What about Carrie and Big in Sex and the City? Finally, Big realizes, “Carrie, you’re the one,” (in Paris, no less). Now that’s a happy ending. And, who doesn’t love Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle, with its meet-me-at-the-top-of-the-Empire-State-Building happy ending?

What about the love stories with the fairytale endings, like Pretty Woman, when Edward (Richard Gere) climbs up the fire escape (with a rose between his teeth) to fetch Vivian (Julia Roberts) and sweep her off her feet? A true knight in shining armor! Be still, my heart. Then, there are the real-life love stories that captivated so many people – Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Grace Kelley and Prince Ranier – to name just a few.

What’s your favorite love story? My personal favorite isn’t on television or in a book. It’s the love story of my parents, Jim and Mary Lou Dennison. They were married for 60 years and celebrated their 60th anniversary right after my father turned 90 years old. He passed away a couple of weeks later. They were both artists. They met in art school in Baltimore, MD, and when my father was summoned home to Cumberland, MD to work for the family business, my mother went after him, hitch-hiking all the way there. They married, had four children and spent their life enjoying music, art and living life to the fullest – together – as best friends. Now, that’s a love story.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!


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