Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Always Valentines

The story goes that my parents had been together since they were thirteen years old.
Both born in 1916, I believe this card was exchanged in the late 1920's
 near the beginning of their relationship. 

My father always told me that "...it was the first valentine your mother gave me".

Since it was signed "From a Friend." and my mother's maiden name is signed
 in code at the bottom, it must have been given about 1929, or a maybe little earlier.

I first saw it as a young child while helping my mom fold and put clean laundry away,
nestled in the back of my Dad's underwear drawer. I noticed it propped up against the back of the drawer. The bright red caught my attention, and I ran out to my mom in the living room to ask about it. She told me the story and answered a few questions and then instructed me to put it back right where I found it...and be careful of it!

My mom passed away when I was about the age that they were when they began their journey together. I occasionally stopped to look at the card as I put laundry away through the years, and always made sure to treat it gently. As my dad must have done, as well, since it remained there for over thirty years until the day he left to join her. I sometimes found it lying at the bottom of the drawer under the clothes, at other times it was propped up against the back of the drawer with the front always facing out. I like to think that, at these times, he must have glanced at it thinking of her, and placed it carefully where it could be glimpsed more easily as he rummaged through his drawer.

I'm told that neither of my parents had ever really dated anyone else, though dad told me of two other admirers of my mom when they were young. But he assured me that nothing ever came of them, though the one guy was apparently quite persistent! Even in his elder years he still puffed up a little when he talked about their unwelcome attention toward her. He never remarried though I often teased him about the interest he drew from the many widows who frequented the local grocery store. In all those years I only ever heard him speak well of my mother and he wouldn't abide even the slightest allusion of disrespect toward her. I imagine their spirits together on this valentine day, at some warm place where they can row out to the middle of a lovely lake and watch the sunset alone together, just as I remember them doing in life. Their dream for retirement had been a cottage on a lake, and that's just how I picture them spending eternity together.         

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