Valentine's Day makes remembering birthday easy

You would think that after 40 years of marriage, I could remember my wife's birthday. I can't.

I never have been able to. I have tried everything to help me remember, but as her day approaches, I forget what I was supposed to remember.

After years of hearing, "You don't love me!" and "You remember everything else but you always forget my birthday!" she's right.

I can remember addresses of places where I used to live and phone numbers that no longer exist. But to try and remember one little birthday always has been virtually impossible.

I had to endure her accusations for ears. Then I finally got smart.

My wife's birthday comes just after Valentine's Day; it's either the 17th or the 19th. I knew it was one of them, but if I guess wrong, it was, "You forgot my birthday. You don't love me."

I finally developed a foolproof plan. Valentine's Day comes on Feb. 14 and her birthday is a few days later. I realized that if I could give her a "Special Valentine," she would be happy and I would be off the hook. Worked like a charm.

Then, a day or two later, I would get her a cake or take her to dinner. She was happy and I was off the hook for another year.

We've been married for a long time - more than 40 years. People often asked how I did it, what our secret was. I would answer that it was because of the kids - neither of us wanted them!

That gets a laugh, but it's not true. The truth is that breaking up and starting over was too much work. And then I would be faced with the question of if what I was getting was better than what I had.

I first met Geni, my soon-to-be bride, when I was working as a clerk in the sporting goods department of a discount store in Ogden, Utah. Her mother was working there at the time and maneuvered to get us together.

Neither of us was very impressed with the other at our first meeting. She thought I was too skinny, and I thought she was too short. And the look on her face suggested she would rather visit the dentist that talk to me.

For our first date, I invited her to a barbecue at my brother's house. I had asked her and she had accepted.

At first, I thought she was bored at the party, but then I realized she was nervous and felt out of place. We stayed long enough to be polite, and her relief was obvious when I asked her if she was ready to leave.

We began dating more. At night after I got off work, I would pick her up and we would just begin driving around. Soon, we began parking in the foothills just outside of town.

I would get my binoculars out, and we would turn on the radio and watch the movie at the drive-in theater.

This continued, until one night while parked up in the hills, I - without thinking or considering the consequences - asked her to marry me.

I gave her 15 seconds to respond, and she made me wait about 14 before saying yes.

It took both of us a while before the realization of what we had done sank in.

As with most couples, our life has been a series of twists, turns, ups and downs. We have had our problems and faced them together.

We moved around a lot chasing rainbows, but even though we never found that elusive pot of gold, we never gave up or let go of our dreams.

I was asked once, "Don't you guys ever fight?" I had to think for a minute. The answer was no, not really.

We have had a few arguments, but you could count those on one hand. What we did and do is talk a lot.

We seldom had any money. We never could afford to party or go to bars, like many of our friends. When we needed to get out of the house, we would go to a local restaurant and sit there, drinking coffee and talking. We would make plans or discuss what we would like to do. We had our hopes, dreams and desires, and we would find ways to encourage each other.

I would have to say that was the secret to our being married. We talked. We had few, if any, secrets the other was not aware of.

So, here it is, 42 years later and her birthday is coming up again. I haven't decided yet what I will get her, which is always a problem.

She has everything I can afford.

It may be something simple, but after all these years I realize that size or cost doesn't matter. She will be happy I remembered.

Now, if I could only remember what year she was born ...