“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” —Aristotle
A Valentine’s Day Promise
February begins with a cold wind and icy roads, but then we remember that February is supposed to be a month of love with Valentine’s Day occurring in the middle of an otherwise dreary month.
The best lesson about love I ever learned was taught to me by my parents. They were never overtly demonstrative in their love, but they didn’t have to be. Love between them was clear in the way my mother cared for my father and the way my father gave to my mother every request he possibly could. At the end of the work day my father would come into the kitchen where my mother was preparing dinner and sit in a chair near her. She would pour him a drink, and they would talk about their day. I never intruded into these moments, realizing without being told that these were their special moments. My father loved my mother’s cooking and baking. She loved his paintings. They were a team.
I remember the one time I saw a physical demonstration of their love. I walked unknowingly into the dining room where my parents were embracing during a quiet moment in their otherwise busy day. I turned around quickly, hoping they did not see me there. I don’t remember seeing them hug like this at any other time, but I knew those moments were always private ones.
Valentine’s Day was a time my father never forgot how much he loved my mother. Every year he bought her roses and a box of candy. The last February of my father’s life, my husband and I flew down to Florida where my parents lived to help bring my father home. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we wanted to help my mother take care of him. Valentine’s Day occurred during the week we were there. In the morning of that day, my father called me over to where he was lying in his recliner and handed me some money.
“Buy your mother a dozen red roses and a box of candy,” he whispered to me so she couldn’t hear. He was unable to walk much at that point, and I knew he could not do it himself.
“I will,” I whispered back.
“And,” he added, “could you make sure she has flowers and candy every year on Valentine’s Day?”
“Yes,” I said, fighting back tears. “I promise you.”
Every year since my father’s death, I have gone to my mother’s apartment with a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates. This is the first year I will be bringing her roses and candy in the nursing home. I will tell her this year as I have every year that they are from Daddy. This year she may not understand why I say this to her. She has had dreams of him recently. In one dream he is there with her but then walks out of the room without her. In another dream she sees him but then can’t find him again. I don’t know what that means. I’d like to think that he is watching over her until it is time for her to join him and my sister.
I know my mother still loves my father and he still loves her. Their love was so strong that nothing would ever end it, not even death. I long for love like that, but I think it doesn’t come to everyone. Maybe that is why it is so special.
At some point in the next few years, I will have to bury my mother in the cemetery plot next to my father. Every year since my father died, my mother has gone with me to put flowers on his grave or plant petunias and geraniums in the urn near his stone. She won’t be able to go with me anymore. But I can still bring her roses and candy from my father this Valentine’s Day, and I can still think about love, their love, and what a gift to was to me to see love like theirs. And I will always remember how they were in that moment in the dining room, that private moment that I witnessed, my mother and my father in a tight embrace that taught me so much about love.