Just when you think you know someone, everything changes. While I was growing up in the Midwest during the 1970s, Richard Nixon became President of the United States. I was young and firmly entrenched in nothing else but achieving my lofty goal of being the first student to clean the chalkboard erasers after school for two hundred consecutive days. Like most children my age, I was more concerned with attaching playing cards to the spokes of my bicycle wheels so it would sound like a motorcycle than with what was going on behind the scenes of our government.
But when the Watergate trials started and monopolized daytime television during the summer of 1974, suddenly I was forced straight into a political nightmare that, much to my chagrin, stole Greg Brady from me every afternoon. I tried to watch the Watergate trials on our little black and white television—really, I did—but all I heard was “Blah, blah, blah,” and “Bleebity, blabbity, blibby blabber.” I decided right then and there, in the midst of the blibby blabber that I did not like Richard Nixon in the least.
Months later when Nixon appeared on television and resigned from the office of the President of the United States, I forgot all about Greg Brady. I was too naïve to understand all that Richard Nixon did to deserve such a punishment, but I felt sad when I watched him climb the airplane steps, turn around, and give the peace sign to the cameras. From that point on, I would rarely think about Richard Nixon except when he was mentioned in passing or in a history book.
But then this week, an article appeared in our local paper that provided new insight into Richard Nixon. Not Richard Nixon the President, but Richard Nixon—boyfriend, husband, and apparently the really terrific author of prolific love letters. Who could have ever imagined that Richard Nixon, orchestrator of a scandal that changed American politics forever, could have written this to his then-girlfriend, Pat, who would later become his wife:
“Let’s go to the mountains weekends; let’s read books in front of fires; most of all, let’s really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours.”
After I read an excerpt from just one of his love letters, I set the paper down and sighed. “Wow,” I muttered. My husband looked at me over the sports section, raised his eyebrows, and waited. “Richard Nixon was a hopeless romantic,” I announced.
“Richard Nixon was a crook,” he muttered as he straightened the paper and started reading again.
I pushed my section of the paper in front of him and pointed to the excerpt. My husband looked at me over his paper like I just told him there was a burly nurse at the front door with a giant needle in her hand. “Is this the part where you tell me I am not romantic enough? That I need to write you more love letters?” he asked. He paused for a moment, looked off in the distance, and then suddenly snapped his fingers in the air. “Remember two weeks ago when I drew that little heart on the bottom of the note I left on the kitchen counter that asked you to unclog the toilet?”
Wow. How could I have forgotten that creative declaration of our love?
“Oh, oh, oh!” he exclaimed. “I’ve got another one. Remember the time when I wrote ‘you are the love of my life’ on your grocery list right under where I wrote ‘don’t forget the Hot Cheetos?”
I stopped for a minute. He was right. Our love letters to each other were certainly not 500 words of mushy, gushiness penned on stationery. Instead, our love letters to each other have sometimes been funny drawings; other times they have been emails; and more often, they have been simple words whispered to each other when the world is not watching. In my opinion, the greatest proof of our love comes every night when my husband walks in the door after work and says to me (without saying anything) that he’s back for more fun. He’s been doing that for nearly twenty years now, and in his own way, he’s been telling me there’s no place he’d rather be. I think my husband and I have done exactly what Richard Nixon hoped to do with his wife one day. Indeed, we have grown together and found the happiness we know is ours.
See? My husband is a hopeless romantic after all. Inspired by a few words from Richard Nixon, we will continue with high hopes and always do our best to let each other know how much we care—even if our declarations of love sometime land on the bottom of the grocery list under “don’t forget the Hot Cheetos.”
By Vicky DeCoster – All Rights Reserved