Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Ann Fitzgerald: If my husband was to present me with something expensive for Valentine's Day, I'd be petrified

Ann and Robin Talbot
Ann and Robin Talbot
Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

If my farmer husband's love for me were to be assessed on the modern romantic grounds of a St Valentine's Day box of chocolates and a dozen red roses, he would certainly score an NG (No Grade).

He did send me a bunch of roses, once, in our early days together.

If it were to happen now, I would fear that he had done something awful, or was about to ask for planning permission for something that was going to require considerable indulgence on my behalf.

Were he to present me with something very expensive, I would be truly petrified.

Admittedly, he does do cards, for my birthday, etc. Though when I once remarked that he hadn't done anything to mark Mother's Day, he pointed out, correctly if not exactly shrewdly, that I am not his mother.

Whoever came up with the notion of any kind of celebration in the middle of February certainly wasn't a livestock farmer, as this is, by far, the busiest time of the year.

Of course, many farm spouses will say that, if not for Valentine's Day, the whiff of romance would never rise above that of slurry.

For many, it is the one day of the year when they can aspire to be treated like the celebrities who appear in glossy magazines and whose lives seem to ooze with glamour and romance.

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But, at a meaningful level, they may not be one bit happier.

True romance is doing something special or unexpected for someone that you love because you want to, not because you are told to, a reminder of why you first fell in love.

A friend who once lodged with a farming couple in their 70s in the West of Ireland tells one of the most romantic stories I've ever heard.

One day, the husband was holding a step ladder while the wife was changing a lightbulb. My friend, in another room, heard the wife saying, "Stop that, Seamus," amidst two sets of giggles. He had run his hand up her stockinged leg.

As I sat down to write this last week, I said to Robin "what would you say is the romantic thing about you?

His response was, "Oh God, what are you going to say about me now?" Then, after a moment, he added, "loyal, obedient, friendly".

A moment later, he added, "though I suppose you could say as much about Timmy (the dog)".

I tried again, "how do you show your romantic side?"

"I hold the door."

"Sure that's only common courtesy," I said. "You're not giving me much to work with."

"In fairness, there probably isn't much to work with."

On a frosty morning, he will sneak back into the house for the keys of the car and turn on the engine so it is warm by the time I am leaving for school.

Or he might present me with the first strawberry of the season. For a big birthday, he got me added as a joint herd owner.

But, if Robin can't see it for himself, then it is only fair to tell the following story as to why, as I often say to him, "there is no one else I would rather be married to".

Duty-free

It's not exactly a statement of infinite love - but sure, that would only swell his head.

On the last day of a ski-trip to Andorra, we visited the capital. One of the first shops we happened upon sold duty-free booze and, not knowing if we would get another chance, we bought a few bottles, which Robin offered to carry.

We ended up doing quite a bit more walking and, when our daughter Ruth stirred the pot by saying, as we passed a jewellery shop, "Mammy's thinking of getting diamond earrings", Robin said, "she can get anything she likes as long as it's not heavy".

He has never looked for me to justify anything I have ever bought. That shows not just his generosity but also his trust.

While he knows that I am unlikely to buy something too mad, that faith makes me feel better than a million roses.

Happy St Valentine's Day!


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