When you woke up this morning, was your heart beating a little faster? Did you have extra spring in your step or a feeling of excitement?
If so, that’s probably because today is Valentine’s Day. We use this day to take extra measures — flowers, gifts and romantic dinners, for example — to express our love to those people who are special in our lives.
As I was thinking about Valentine’s Day, I realized that this is the 15th I have experienced since moving to Columbus. That’s kind of a milestone because come December I’ll have worked 15 years at The Republic.
I started thinking about what people woke up to in the pages of The Republic on Valentine’s Day in that time period. Was it a mix of good and bad news around the world? Did they read features about people’s love stories?
In today’s edition, for example, we have a story taking a closer look at Valentine’s Day being the biggest sales day of the year for florists.
When I examined the editions of my first, fifth and 10th Valentine’s Days, I discovered a variety of interesting stories — some that appropriately bring a smile to your face on this special day.
In 2009, The Republic ran a wire service story about a study that showed that kissing reduces stress. The story said kissing releases chemicals in people that ease stress hormones in men and women. So, if you’ve had a bad, stressful day, tell your spouse or significant other to pucker up because you need some stress relief. And considering today should be the one day of lots of lip locking, millions of people should wake up tomorrow feeling better.
In the same edition was a story in which local ministers shared their wisdom about romance. The Rev. David Bosley said relationships that endure are those in which people are more interested in giving than receiving.
“It’s the love that goes the extra distance. It’s the love that doesn’t have to receive something first before it gives,” he said.
In 2004, The Republic published a story about Taylorsville Elementary School students collecting jars of peanut butter and jelly to donate to Love Chapel’s food pantry and to raise money for kidscommons, the chidren’s museum in Columbus. While not a Valentine’s Day romance story, it’s the type that warms the heart just as much because of an effort to make sure people, especially children from families in need, don’t go hungry.
Also in that edition was a syndicated column on the Opinion Page with the headline “Why is Knight so angry?” I’m sure there are a lot of people who have thought former Indiana University men’s basketball coach Bob Knight could have used an extra valentine card or two to calm his temper a bit.
In 2000, the Valentine’s Day edition of The Republic could have served as a special gift for IU fans as they got to read about the Hoosiers crushing the Michigan Wolverines 86-65. As an IU grad, a thrashing of Michigan always makes my heart go pitter-patter.
However the story in that day’s paper that really touched my heart was one about Columbus resident John Rohlfing’s first Valentine’s Day without his wife of 54 years, Betty Lou.
The story explained that about 60 years earlier, when they were high school students in Shelby County, John Rohlfing told Betty Lou Meyer that he was going to marry her. They eventually married in 1945, then moved around a lot because of his insurance job before settling in Columbus. “Lou” was a teacher and then a counselor at Columbus East High School.
The story also detailed Lou’s battle with cancer and the family’s decision to have her live the end of her life at home with the aid of hospice care. She was surrounded by her family when she died Dec. 3, 1999.
Former Republic reporter Britt Kennerly, the author of the story, captured the essence of their love — a lifelong Valentine’s story:
“When you get right down to it, I guess, love is not about gifts of diamonds and flowers and chocolates. It’s not centered on sultry smiles over champagne or stolen moments in romantic places.
“Love is about the way you live your life. Who you touch emotionally as well as physically. The person you become as you are loved by others.
“John Rohlfing’s life was changed forever by a woman he loved to love, a former cheerleader whose dignity and classy demeanor did not diminish in life — or