Conversation Hearts

February 15, 2023

My sweetheart of a husband and I went out for a Valentine’s Day mini-date (cocktails and appetizers) last night at a local restaurant. We were discussing our days of auld lang syne, and while our voices weren’t loud, apparently they carried enough to get the attention of the couple seated right next to us. “Excuse us, but may we ask—how long have you been together?” they inquired politely. We were happy to respond (initially), but when we did the math, “happy” became “appalled,” because our answer was…49 years. 49 consecutive Valentines Days together. A whisker away from a half-century. As we tallied it all up, I could feel my knees weaken, and I swear Steve’s hands began to shake. We’d forgotten to get Valentines for each other this year, so we exchanged Medicare cards instead. 

It got me thinking about those ubiquitous conversation heart candies, all those little love messages stamped on them. What would ours say?

Many are the conversations Steve and I have had lo these past (What did I just say? Oh, yeah, ALMOST 50) years. Some definitely involved hugs, kisses, chocolates and flowers (especially those early, smoochy years). The first Elise and Steve candy hearts would likely have read, “Be Mine” “Honey Bun” and “Me+You.”

A few years later, the words on our hearts would have revolved around all the changes in our lives—changing cities, changing from apartments to houses, changing (many many) diapers: “You Move Me” “Hey, Baby” “Hey, More Babies.”

Then there were the unremarkable middle decades, the settled-down time, when we fell into a comfortable routine (rut? Did somebody say rut? Never!) Those were the Valentine’s Days  captured in candy with the catchphrases “Content Mint” “and “Where’s Remote?” 

Luckily, I was clever enough to develop a significant mental illness, just in time to blast everything apart—thank Heavens for the angst and trauma that kept things fresh! “Bye, Polar” and “Nuts 4 U” screamed our angry little sugar hearts. 

Nowadays, we’re in a new place: not Blahs-ville, not Crazytown. Retireland? Maybe. Life continues to change, and sometimes it seems like a diminishing. We feel the cold in our bones now, and our joints. Steve’s hearing is going, so is my vision– as always, we are perfectly in sync. We yearn for warm spring weather, not merely to see the robins and tulips again, but to get past the icy “slip and fall” season. As we sip our drinks, we remember all the Februarys we have spent together, and wonder how many remain to us. Our current convo hearts might read: “Carpe Diem” and “Count On Me.” And, definitely, “Love U 4Ever.” 

When we tell the couple in the restaurant our magic number, they don’t say, “You’re been Valentines for 49 years? You sure don’t look it!” That would have been flattering, but patently untrue. Instead, they smile at us and say, “Well, God bless you.”

And we respond, with our lips and in our hearts, “He already has.”






    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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