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Those of you who are my age or older will remember the “Love Is …” comic strips.

When I was a little girl in the ’70s, I had a thing for those. My grandmother, whom I called Nano, cut them out of the paper and saved them for me. I was a hoarder before it was the subject of a TV show.

The comic strip featured a sometimes naked — but not anatomically correct — couple, a dark-haired boy and a girl with light-colored long hair, big eyes and freckles, and it was a one-frame strip that started in the left-hand corner with “love is ….” The New Zealand artist started the cartoons as love notes to her husband.

One of the most famous is “Love is … being able to say you are sorry.”

A lot were mushy, such as “Love is … feeling guilty you haven’t thought about him in a whole hour.” “Love is … when he’s your sunshine on a rainy day.”

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I was thinking about those cartoons, most of which I still have somewhere buried in my Nano’s cedar chest.

I’ve never been romantic, so Valentine’s Day is not that important to me.

To me, love is …

• Handwritten love letters between your grandparents, signed with X’s and O’s. I still have some of those, too.

• Lying on her side of the bed to warm the sheets before she gets in. (I am so spoiled.)

• Telling her she’s beautiful when she’s pregnant and weighs more than you do. (Like me, with son No. 2.)

• Indescribable when you see your baby for the first time.

• Indescribable when you see your grandchild for the first time.

• Rocking babies and singing, even if it’s off-key.

• A sleeping baby in your arms.

• Getting up for a 3 a.m. feeding so she, or he, doesn’t have to.

• Good, hardworking parents.

• Special grandparents.

• Your mother’s hand on your head when you’re sick.

• Your dad always believing you can do anything.

• A home-cooked meal.

• Saying no when “everybody else’s mother” is saying yes.

• Relearning algebra to help him with his homework.

• Letting them go, even when you don’t want to.

• Lying awake when they learn to drive, listening for the sound of the front door opening.

• Brothers who are best friends, too.

• Letting him have the last cookie, even though you really want it.

• Fixing her breakfast so she won’t be late for work.

• Listening, and listening, and listening when she’s venting.

• Respect.

• Trust.

• Loyalty.

• For better or worse.

• Making each other laugh after all these years.

• Being happy when you hear his car pull up in the driveway.

• Cleaning up the kitchen after he cooks, even the greasy pan.

• Making sure you close the refrigerator door because it really drives him crazy.

• Having fun being together, even if it’s doing nothing.

• Friends who accept you just the way you are.

• A good book.

• Knowing that no matter what you do, your family will be there for you.

• A lot more than one day when you get a box of candy, some flowers or a piece of jewelry. Not that I wouldn’t take any of those, but it’s the million smaller moments that matter.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or


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