Cooking With Myra: The best Valentine of all

Feb. 7, 2011 at midnight
Updated Feb. 7, 2011 at 8:08 p.m.

Almond Joy Cake

Almond Joy Cake

By Myra StarkeyI've been thinking a lot about joy lately. This would be the kind of joy that makes you smile, even though you don't realize it. It is the joy you feel when you see a new baby or someone you really love. A joy that creeps in and covers you before you realize what is happening.

Love and joy have a lot in common. Both are felt deep down in your heart and bubble up when you least expect it.

For more than half of my life, I have had the same Valentine, Taylor. It is remarkable that two people could live together for so long and still be in love. The love we first felt as college kids is different than the love today. Back then, we did not know each other as well as we do now. We could not predict each other's behaviors or reactions. I did not know what he thought about various things, but I was certain how he felt about me.

Taylor and I are very different in many ways. He likes things neat and ordered, and I tend to be messy. He likes the cold weather, and I prefer it to be hot. If we were going on a vacation, he would choose the mountains, and I would pick the ocean. He doesn't like to eat big quantities of anything and never seems to sit still, while I often love to eat all sorts of things and am content to skip exercise and sit on the couch and watch an episode of "CSI."

Taylor and I have worked in the same office for more than 20 years. He would say that works out because he allows me to be in charge, and he really does not like to be a personnel or business manager anyway. I believe it is possible for us to be around each other all the time because we practice kindness toward each other.

We greatly value our relationship and work hard to keep our love alive. Working side by side is not always easy for spouses. Many of my friends tell me they simply could not do it, and if they tried, it would cause major conflict.

We do not always agree with each other, but we frequently agree to disagree. There are things in his personality that I simply love.

I love to see him as he encourages patients to take control of their lives and be healthier. I love to see him with our children, laughing and listening intently to them about their lives. I love to see him chasing our two poodles around the house, humored by their dog behaviors. I love to see him sit down to a meal I have prepared and give me compliments.

I love that he loves me for the way I am, for better or worse. I think that is what love is really about.

Love is about accepting people for who they are and how they feel. Taylor will point out my behavior flaws, but usually in a quiet way, trying hard not to hurt my feelings. His intent is only that I become a better person. I suppose that is why he puts up the Girl Scout cookies when he thinks that eight cookies are enough for dessert. If I chide him, he reminds me that I told him I wanted to lose a few pounds, and he is trying to support my efforts.

We all need people in our lives who love us just like we are, but at the same time help us to become better humans. Looking back on those early days of dating in college, I had no idea that I would love someone as much as I love Taylor, now. I am so blessed that long ago, I was given such a wonderful Valentine.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail



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