Growing up, I don’t remember Valentine’s Day being such a big deal…that is until Dan came along.
My parents didn’t do much for each other. I don’t remember flowers or candy coming home with my dad. There certainly was not anything for my sister or me. The only thing that I remember was picking out those paper Valentine’s cards with Mickey Mouse or Goofy and deciding which one of my classmates was going to get the pretty one and who was going to receive the “Goofy” card.
The most memorable Valentine’s for me was my 16th year. Dan and I had a couple “dates” (if anyone would classify them as one.) I saw him everyday at my father’s company. But, I do remember waiting to see if Dan would ask me out on a “real” date for Valentine’s. I waited at work and then I waited by the phone. Nothing. Nada.
Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday that year. As usual, I was home. There were not many, but, for a few moments, I wasn’t thinking about Dan or the old boyfriend or the other couple of guys who I knew wanted to ask me out. I can’t remember what had taken my attention away from it being Valentine’s Day.
The door bell rang. My mother went to the door and she returned with something in the green paper that is used at the florist’s.
I was surprised when she said that this was for me. I opened the green tissue paper. There was a single rose in a vase. I took a deep breath to inhale the scent of the beautiful rose. It was lovely. Then I opened the card. It was from my old boyfriend. I put the vase down with the card and went to my bedroom.
My mother came to the door and asked if I was alright. I told her I was just fine. She knew that I was disappointed that it wasn’t from who I wanted it to be.
It was still exciting. That was the first time I ever received dlivered flowers and they were from a boy.
A couple of hours later, the door bell rang again. I looked out of the window and it was the florist’s van. I ran to the door. This time he had two green wrapped offerings. I thanked him. He looked so tired. I imagined that he was tired of driving so far out-of-town. He combined these two deliveries to save time and gas.
I opened the first one. It held a beautiful bowl and pitcher with a rose with ivy. It was from a fellow that had wanted to date me but he was much older and my father frowned on the idea. I like him, but I liked his GTO better. He was persistent. I sat the bowl and pitcher down on the dining room table. My mother said it began to look like a florist’s work space.
I opened the last one. By this time, I thought that Dan had not been as interested in me as I was in him. I was not expecting this one to be from him. Much to my surprise, it was. There were six red carnations in a vase. I was thrilled. My mother looked at me and said, “This is the one you were waiting on, isn’t it.” She looked at the card. She didn’t smile. She didn’t approve of Dan.
That was the first Valentine’s Day for me. I understood more of why everyone made a big deal of it. I felt wonderful yet, I wondered who Dan sent the roses to. It wasn’t me. And, I didn’t get a phone call or a date. I knew that I was an “honorable mention” in the long line of girls that Dan saw. I didn’t like it much, but I knew that it was the way he was. I still hoped that he would “come to his senses”. Twenty five years later, he did.
Dan always remembered Valentine’s Day. There was always a beautiful card with a hand written note on the inside. At the end of the hand written note, there was a ” P.S. I love you.”
On our last Valentine’s Day, he couldn’t get to the store and he was worrying about how to get me something. I told him that I didn’t need anything but being with him. I reminded him that I would have much rather had a date with him than 6 carnations on our first Valentine’s Day. He would always sheepishly smile. I knew that he didn’t spend that night alone.
To celebrate Valentine”s Day, I cooked a special meal and we had candle light. At then end of the dinner, he brought me an envelope. In it he wrote, ” My love for you is a never-ending river. I love you like no other. ” I cried, he cried and we spent the evening holding each other like two frightened children in a terrible storm. It was the most special Valentine’s Day of my life. It is THE one that I will hold onto for the rest of my life.
In the years before cancer, Dan would always had a card for me and a present. When it came time for me to buy Dan’s Valentine’s Day present, it was always lingerie for me. Dan appreciated his gift. There is something about the look of gratitude in a man’s eyes when he sees new lingerie by candle light.
Because of those wonderful memories, I have been avoiding everything Valentines. Commercials are ever-present. Stores are full of hearts and red flowers. All of this is too much for me. I am surrounded by things that remind me that I am alone, of Dan, of those wonderful past Valentines…and it hurts. It hurts alot.
It seems to increase my desire to have someone in my life. A special someone or someone who finds me special. Maybe, that is what I truly want. someone who finds me special.
The other day, I sat in the doctor’s office waiting for my named to be called. I sat besides an older lady. She definitely was in her 70’s. She began to chat away. Very early in our conversation, she told me that she was waiting for a gentleman who was being seen by our doctor.
She spoke his name as if I should recognize it. I didn’t and then she went on to tell me that he was in real estate and, with great pride in her voice, she said, “We’re dating”.
The sparkle in her eyes and the enthusiasm in her voice reminded me of a teen age girl bubbling over her first boyfriend.. It was clear, she was reliving her years when boyfriends were kings and being the girlfriend of the high school quarterback made you somebody.
I smiled. I noticed her hair was perfectly quaffed, she had spent hours for her to put on her eye and she was very smartly dressed. She had gone all out for this doctor’s appointment. As her boyfriend appeared from his time with the doctor, her eyes lit up and all she saw or heard was him.
She had no illusions that this guy was “The One”. She already lived a life with the love of her life. This man was her special friend, her hero. He had rescued her from endless lonely days. This man had saved her from living the life I am living.
She found a different kind of love. She found a love of acceptance. Acceptance of her wrinkles, of her gray hair, of her extra pounds and of her less than firm body. She found magic.
She was showing me that it was possible to find great friendship and companionship no matter what everyone says. In the midst of all of her chatter, she was telling me that it is possible, no matter how unlikely, to have a “Happy Valentine’s Day” again…