The cynic in me sometimes regards Valentine's Day as a commercially manufactured holiday to boost sales of chocolate and stuffed animals. Thank goodness, I'm not truly a cynic at heart. I write romance, so no matter how cynical I might pretend to be, it's not who I am.
In that vein, I'm sharing an open Valentine to my family.
To my extended family: To say we don't share the same world view would be, well, an understatement, and in spite of the physical distance between us, it's probably that philosophical distance that keeps us apart. We do share DNA, and beyond that, we share a history together. We share a dozen Christmases and summers at Grandmother's house. We shared that moment in a hospital room when the world stopped turning, and Mom took her last breath. In the end, those moments mean more than the differences. Happy Valentine's Day. I love you.
To my brother: Happy Birthday! Mom always called you the best Valentine Dad ever gave her. You are the smartest person I know. For real. You read more than I do, and you read non-fiction, so the stuff you know might actually be useful. I respect the person you are and the life you've chosen for yourself. Happy Valentine's Day. I love you.
To my dad: Thank you for raising me to be self-confident and independent. You never went around preaching feminism. It was simply a given that I could do anything I set my mind to. When a high school teacher told me I couldn't be a doctor (he was probably right, lol), you made an ass of yourself in front of God and everybody to set him straight. I love that. You were at every band performance, every school play, even the one where I scandalized my grandparents by saying "hell" in front of an audience. I never doubted your love or wanted for your approval. There's no greater gift you could have given me...except maybe the comfort of knowing you took care of Mom when she needed it most. I know you protected us from the worst of her illness. I know she wanted it that way. Thank you. Happy Valentine's Day. I love you.
To Patricia: Thank you for bringing joy and laughter back into my dad's life. I'm glad you're part of my family. Happy Valentine's Day. I love you.
To my eldest son: High school is five minutes compared to the whole of your life, and when you walk across that stage this spring, the rest of your life will be stretched in front of you with endless possibilities. You are smart, creative, and sensitive. You will find your place in the world. I am proud of the strength you've shown in the face of adversity. I am proud you are my son. Happy Valentine's Day. I've loved you since before you were born.
To my youngest son: Never, never lose your sense of humor. It will get you through the roughest moments in your life. Nobody makes me laugh like you do. Keep aiming high. Your goals are lofty and worthy. Keep them in front of you, and nothing can stop you from achieving them. You are a natural leader because of your work ethic and your willingness to take responsibility when you mess up. I'm so proud of you. Happy Valentine's Day. I love you, honey.
To my husband: When we went to pre-marital counseling and the minister asked us why we wanted to get married, neither one of us mentioned love. The minister pointed out that omission when we were done talking and said it boded well for our marriage. I still chuckle when I think of that. Oh sure, we were in love, but we each seemed to have realized we had found someone we really liked. Liking your mate is a bigger deal than most people realize. That genuine affection has gotten us through when hearts and flowers haven't. I still like you, honey. You still make me laugh. You steadfastly supported me when I told you I wanted to go back to school and become a teacher, even though it meant cutting our income at the time by more than half. My happiness was more important to you than my salary. You never laughed at me when I said I was going to write a novel. You said, "It's about damn time!" You are a good man, and I'm glad our boys have you as an example. Happy Valentine's Day, Bruce. I love you.
To my readers: Thank you for continuing to show up and read whatever random thing I post here. I hope you all have a Happy Valentine's Day.