A Valentine

One would like to say “Happy” Valentine’s Day to all, but then I have to consider something that my son Tom just pointed out to me. This morning he was listening to a favorite radio station while he worked, and they were playing a Valentine’s Day program. What struck him was that most of the love songs were about broken hearts. Could that be so…are our songs about love mostly about the unrequited sort? Not being up on pop music, I cannot say otherwise. And then I turned on my favorite station, WRTI in Philadelphia, and they were playing their Valentine’s Day program which at the time was Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Well, even though the music is glorious, you cannot find a more heart-breaking love story than that one.
So I’ve thought back to my own Valentine’s Days, and most of them–although happy occasions at the time–blend in with life’s many forgotten days. One that does come to mind was probably the first time I realized what this holiday was about. I was about 5, a pre-schooler, anyway. My mother kept an album of the Valentines cards she had received, mostly from my father. I loved looking at those lacy, flowery, velvety cards and didn’t quite understand that they had been delivered over many years. On Valentine’s day I greatly anticipated the arrival of my own treasure trove of Valentines, signaled by the sound of the mailman putting our mail in the door slot. When I finally heard it, I ran to gather up the many envelopes that would be addressed to me…and… there was one…from my grandparents. My mother was perplexed when she saw my disappointment and asked from whom had I expected to get cards? I couldn’t think of an answer to the question–perhaps our family doctor who always made me feel better when I was sick and whom I thought of as my first boyfriend? Perhaps the neighbors and family friends whom I had thought loved me and would want to show it with a beautiful card like the ones in my mother’s album? Ah, yes, it was my first broken heart, but it was a small one and quite resilient. This is the first time I have written about it at all, and please notice that I haven’t done it in song.
May your day be of the forgettable, lovely sort.

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