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The first grade Valentine’s Day party was destined to be awesome. Everyone had made a giant pink construction heart with a pocket in which to insert said Valentines. Games were first, then food, then, the opening of the much awaited Valentines! We had waited for weeks for this most auspicious occasion, and hopes were running high for lots of Valentines, and maybe a special one from “the one”.
Games were fun, but the food – ohhhh my what treats awaited the palate! Cookies, candy, cupcakes – all the stuff I never ate at home because mom was always on a diet and “we don’t want to get chubby, do we?” (I was already chubby, doomed to the battle of the bulge for the rest of my life.) Alas, my poor parents tried.
I had just gotten my food and sat down at my desk, parents were everywhere assisting with plates or drinks, the room had gotten rather warm, but I was ready for this feast!
The next thing I knew, I was staring at brown vomit all over my desk, swirling around my plate. I couldn’t figure out why it was there, nor why I felt like a brick had smashed into my head. I looked up, the room was swirling, my teacher grabbing red napkins and me all at the same time to save my lap from the nauseous gunk about to land. As I recall, there seemed to be pandemonium as parents ran to assist and peers pointed and screamed. The Valentine party was down the tubes for this kid who had been blessed with a Valentine Virus.
Upon awakening at home in my bed, my dad was sitting next to me with the giant construction Valentine. “Poor thing, had to leave the class “‘Valentime’s Day party’!” (He always joked with me about calling it “Valentime’s Day” when I was little.) I remembered and was sad all over again. “I didn’t even get to open my Valentines!!!” I wailed. “That’s why I have them right here. Your teacher let me bring it home, we can open them now, and I’ll hang it up right here on the wall beside your bed.”
I was still bummed about having to leave the party, but the fact that I could take my cards home along with my giant Valentine holder helped a whole lot. My dad made over the Valentine’s card from that “special someone” he knew I liked.
Dad always knew what to say to make me feel better. He was my buddy, taking time to play games with me, give me advice, and especially, laugh with me. He thought I was THE funniest kid on the planet. And he was my true Valentine – always getting me a card long with my mom’s – until Jim came along. He let him take over then. (And a splendid job he has done of that, I might add!)
Last week I took dad to the heart doctor for a check up. He chatted in his slurred manner about the weather, my kids, mom. Then he said, “If you have time, and you don’t care to go, I need to stop by CVS before we go home.” I said sure. “The things I need could wait till next week, but…I don’t have a Valentine.” He chuckled. I knew he was talking about a card for my mom.
Dad’s health has deteriorated to the point that he can no longer drive, and so he depends on mom to get him where he needs to go. He didn’t want to have to ask her to take him to get her Valentine, too.
Almost every day I recall my parents in their younger years. My growing up years, when they were so actively involved in many things, as well as attending any function that pertained to me. Two years ago when my world crashed down around me, I got a major reality check as I realized those two people were gone forever. This new set of parents were greatly altered, and these ongoing health issues were the “new normal”.
But when my dad asked me to take him to get a Valentine, I wasn’t sad. Instead, my heart was filled with joy, I even laughed! Because dad’s come a very long way – even this time last year he didn’t have the presence of mind to think of getting mom a card. Still thinking of others, wanting to surprise my mom.
And that, she was. Just a little thing, but it meant a lot to both of them. Just like that day so long ago (we won’t say just how long), when my dad sat on my bed and read all my Valentines to me.