The most unlikely Valentine

I was getting up yesterday when I noticed the date and nipped down to interrupt my husband, already at the breakfast table, with a kiss and a Valentine wish. He glanced up from his newspaper and reciprocated. That was Valentine done for another year.

The day before I had mentioned to my husband that I needed a tennis ball (bear with me) to put in the drying machine to try to restore our towels to a semblance of fluffiness. This may turn out to be another internet myth – we shall see.

Around midday, he appeared in the garden (I was battling with the roots of a pot-bound rhododendron) and offered me this.

DSCN7030        In 1978 we were expecting our first child. Parenting classes for fathers included the information that during childbirth your wife might suffer from something called ‘back labour’. This could be rather ‘uncomfortable’ but the appropriate (? don’t ask me) use of a tennis ball might help relieve the pain. He had purchased this ball and packed it, along with many other recommended comforts, for the expected long haul. In the event there was no time to use any of these aids and our first-born arrived without need of a tennis ball or much else – but here, preserved all these years, is the very one.

I call that a Valentine present.

Edit for Andrew… two years later.

My Tennis Elly 1980 1 My Tennis Elly 1980 2

38 thoughts on “The most unlikely Valentine

  1. OK, even if I declare myself the Valentine Scrooge, I find this most touching! And how remarkable that he would remember the tennis ball after all this time….and be able to locate it. What a guy, Hilary!!

  2. Dear Hilary,

    I love this story and well relate to it. I don’t remember if we had a tennis ball but I had the back labor. My husband used his fists and when he wore those out he resorted to pop cans. One of our sons was also born in 1978. We went to Lamaze childbirth classes with all three, although, by the third we could’ve taught.

    Great story and perfect Valentine present.



    • How wonderful Rochelle, clearly 1978 was a good year. I have to admire anyone who lived through hours of childbirth, as I clearly had a relatively easy time. I had two girls and with the second one we arrived at the hospital and I was taken straight to the delivery room. I had forgotten the word Lamaze until you reminded me today (my memory being several magnitudes smaller than my husband’s). Yes, a very happy memory, thank you for sharing yours.

  3. A case of love all? I am amazed that anybody would think of playing tennis whilst in labour. Or worse still, think of labour whilst playing tennis. It looks in mint condition. For your memory, the winners in 1978 were Borg (yawn), Navratilova (yawn) beating Connors and Evert respectively. The losers may have had their minds on other things. Bob Hewitt and Frew McMillan were mens doubles winners and the forgotten (at least by me) pair of Wendy (Rabbit) Turnbull and Kerry Melville won the Ladies title. Frew won the mixed doubles with the lumbering, towering figure of Betty Stove. I expect they played with wooden rackets (except Connors). It does not seem all that long ago to be honest. I was at university (with no children expected).

  4. I wonder if outdoor chess would at all have been helpful during the back labour. I imagine an en passant move could have had dire consequences. I never went to parenting classes and by 1978 my parenting days were over anyway! Dr Barabara Simcock had ‘performed’ the vasectomy on me in 1972 at the Family Health centre in Sydney.
    What a nice thing for your husband to have remembered and kept that very same tennis ball.

  5. I wouldn’t get away with not doing Valentines Day in this household, Hillary. 🙂 I even had to watch a romantic movie last night: Notting Hill. And I had to replenish the chocolate. I think the tennis ball story is quite romantic. It was even an ‘official ball.’ What more can you ask for? –Curt

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