For a local couple, a card this year is a whole lot more than just a regular Valentine's Day gift. It's part of their story now.
Faced with obstacles for decades, the card is now part of a time that overwhelmingly changed their lives.
Dog people. You can't sum up Mike and Karen Cowell any better than that.
"We have eight right now," laughed Mike.
"We got the hospice dogs, unadoptable," Karen added.
"We have whatever no one else will take, kinda like me," Mike smiled.
It's been that compassion that's made this couple right for each other. That's been the case since Mike asked Karen out about 40 years ago at a yard sale.
"I told him he was too old for me," Karen said. "I wouldn't go out with him."
"I persisted," Mike said. "I just overwhelmed her with my charm, my money and my handsome good looks. Finally got her to go out with me and then she told me she was going to marry me. The preacher said we wouldn't make it a year. We need to go find him and tell him he was incorrect about that."
"He wore me down," laughed Karen. "He just made me laugh every day. Still does."
Making their life together in Donelson, it was 20 years ago that Mike's vision faded.
"Diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma," said Mike. "I guess I've had ten surgeries. Take a pair of old glasses and smear Vaseline on the inside and outside. That's what it's like."
"I can very faintly make her out," Mike continued, turning to his wife. "It's kind of a profile. I still appreciate her, but I can't see her."
For years, that's just how it was. Then, Karen saw an ad in the paper.
It was for eSight, electronic glasses with the mission to allow the legally blind to see. Mike and Karen went in for a trial, unsure if the glasses would work for Mike's condition.
"I put them on, and it was like the sun coming up," said Mike. "The first thing I saw was her sitting across the room from me, and I could make her out perfectly. I couldn't get the words out. I really couldn't comprehend that I could see again."
What this means is for the first time in 20 years, Mike can give Karen the valentine he wrote and see her read it.
"Roses are red, your eyes are green, they're still the most beautiful that I've ever seen," Karen read from the card. "It's great to be able to put a face to that heart again. I love you."
"Very sweet," she said, turning to Mike. "Thank you."
Mike called it a new chapter for him and Karen and a whole lot of dogs.
"It's just unbelievable," he said. "That's all I can say."
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