“There is only one happiness in life—to love and be loved.” George Sand
Valentine’s Day Memory, 1991
The love between my mother and father was an example of how true love should always be. I almost never heard them argue. More often, I heard my mother laugh at my father’s antics, humorous comments, and silly faces. My father tried always to please my mother and make her happy. I remember one evening when I was young, maybe around ten years old, I walked into our darkened dining room and encountered my mother and father in a deep embrace. I had never seen them like this, but I knew it could not have been the first time. I just had never seen it before because their love tended to be a very private thing.
After they retired, they bought a small house in Florida where they spent winters. They returned to New York for spring and summer. In 1990 my parents came up for Christmas, but my father wasn’t well. We just weren’t sure what was wrong. A few weeks after they returned to Florida, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer that had spread to his lungs and his brain. My husband and I drove down to Florida in February to drive them both up north so my father could receive treatment and they could get the support they needed.
Valentine’s Day occurred while we were down there. I remember my father motioning me over to his chair and handing me some money.
“Buy your mother a box of chocolates and a dozen roses for me,” he said. He was barely able to get up out of his chair, or I know he would have dragged himself out to get these things himself. I did as I was asked, and when I returned, he asked me if I would continue to do this every Valentine’s Day in the future. I guess he knew he would not be doing it himself any more. I promised him I would.
My father died on May 10, 1991, just a few months after his diagnosis.
Every Valentine’s Day since then I have bought a red, heart-shaped box of chocolates and a dozen roses for my mother. Every year she has said, “Oh, you shouldn’t have done this.” But when I tell her they are from Dad, she can’t argue with that.
I hope every year he has looked down at us with joy as my mother opens her box of chocolates and arranges the roses in a vase.
Dad, I’ll remember to do this every year, just like you would have. And thank you, Dad, for showing me what true love is really all about.