Today is a bittersweet holiday for me. Thirteen years ago today, I got the phone call telling me that my dad had passed away. His death had been expected for weeks, so the call wasn’t a surprise, but it wasn’t welcome either.
Although, in a way, losing my dad on Valentine’s Day was appropriate. See, my dad never forgot Valentine’s Day. Every year, he bought chocolates and cards for “his two favorite girls”: My mom and me. When I grew up and moved away from home, the cards and chocolates continued. He would mail them to my apartment, and then later to my office. They continued until the year he died.
For a long time after that, I didn’t feel like marking the day. Celebrating felt wrong somehow. My mom, of course, never celebrated the day again. To her, Valentine’s Day was a day of mourning. A few years ago, however, I realized that by ignoring the day, I was actually doing my dad a disservice. He marked the day because it was his way of telling us how much he loved us. For a man who wasn’t prone to overly demonstrative displays of affection, this was a big gesture, and I’ll admit, that whenever that box of chocolates arrives (caramel turtles, by the way – it was tradition), I felt my dad’s love. Call it trite, but I knew I was Daddy’s Little Girl.
So, I started marking the day again. Today, I will give my “two favorite guys” chocolates and cards, to remind them how much they mean to me. And, I’ll bring a Valentine’s gift to my mom as well. Her memory has gone enough that she’s forgotten today is a sad anniversary, and so she’ll be thrilled to receive a treat. In a way, it’ll be like I’m doing it for Dad. Considering how much he loved my mom, I know he’d be glad to know someone’s giving her cards and chocolates again.
My wish for all of you is that you, too, feel loved and wanted today. That for twenty-four hours, the entire world takes a break from anger and name calling and instead sends cards and chocolates (real or visual). Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.