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I hate feet.

I can’t stand the sight of them. Not even my own. Especially not my own. In my estimation, there is no such thing as a beautiful pair of feet. With one exception. My wife’s feet.

Diane has cute feet. Small feet. Size six.

Amazingly, I have no problem massaging her feet at the end of a hard day. That’s a big step for me, touching someone’s feet.

Why am I sharing this personal information with the world? Well, because it’s almost Valentine’s Day and I’m trying to define love.

The fact that I can actually put those little feet in my hands and touch them speaks volumes about the depth of my love. God must have wired me in such a way that the only two feet in the world by which I would not be totally repulsed belong to the woman with whom I have vowed to spend the rest of my life.

I joke that Diane hit the lottery when she married me, but it’s really the other way around. I got the better of the deal.

When I first asked Diane, a single mother of three kids, to go out with me, she said “no,” almost too quickly, I thought. She came up with a number of lame excuses but I was persistent. I knew the way to her heart was through her children so I took her boys to baseball games, football games, anywhere that would give me an excuse to talk with her.

It took a while but eventually I wore her down. I remember attending a friend’s wedding with a tall blonde as my date. Diane attended the wedding with her mother. I made it a point to walk past her table several times with my guest. Diane’s reaction? None.

I would see her in church and ask if I could sit with her. She’d roll her eyes to heaven and give me a look that said, “Yeah, I guess. It’s a free country.” Eventually, I got the first date. Then came “the kiss.” Long, lingering, smoldering. It sealed the deal — swept her of her cute little feet.

Before I knew it, I was down on one knee asking her to be my wife.

She said, “Yes.” Almost too quickly, I thought.

“Are you sure you don’t want to think it over for a day or two?” We got married on April 1, 1989. April Fool’s Day. Go ahead. Make the jokes. I’ve heard them all. Our pastor quoted Genesis 2:24, “The two shall become one.” And for almost 18 years we have seen that truth played out over and over again.

We are a couple. It’s a noun meaning two of something. Two people. One unit. I’m still mystified that there is someone in my world who exemplifies unconditional love. I can spend a week extolling her virtues and wonderful attributes but suffice to say, she is the woman who has settled beside me. She is the woman who knows I don’t like tomatoes in my salad. The one who nursed me back to health two years ago when I could not walk for eight weeks. She never complained. Someone who knows what I’m thinking. Someone who knows what’s bothering me. Someone who reads all my stories in the paper, even the boring municipal meetings.

The road has been bumpy at times, and at times we’ve settled into the mundane day-to-day business of life, but we’ve always managed, somehow, to fall in love with each other over and over. A note or a chocolate candy tucked into my lunch bag. A phone call in the middle of the day just to tell her I’m thinking about her. A gesture. A touch. A wink of the eye. An early morning walk in the pouring summer rain.

We have prayed together, cried together and laughed together. Oh, have we laughed together. Sometimes it’s the best remedy to pressing problems. And still, there are times when I will wake in the middle of the night, look at the person lying next to me, the soft hum of her breathing the only sound, and wonder, “Who are you? Do I know you?” But I do know her. She’s the woman whose feet are rubbing up against mine under the covers and it doesn’t bother me a bit.

Dennis Shaughnessy’s e-mail address is dshaughnessy@thevalleydispatch.com.