Reconstructing Valentines

a little Valentine that went a long way

a little Valentine that went a long way


The envelope in the mail was hand-addressed from my sister.  My first thought was that this was the next of a series of communications regarding our Dad’s estate.

Was I ever wrong.

“Was going through Mom’s things and found these. Thought you might like to have them back – hope they brighten your day as much as they did hers,” the written note said.

I’ll warn you now, this is going to be sappy.

Out tumbled paper-laced heart-cut valentines from the past. My now-17-year-old, really cool teenager was a 4rd-grader, his school picture glue-sticked to construction paper with 34 (I counted them) hand-drawn hearts around his baby-toothed smile. My youngest preschooler’s valentine, an intricate web of stickers, fat hearts, and “MOM MOM” scrunched, bold and big. I must have helped him hold the pen. I hardly remembered those valentines.

Yet, my mom, slowly dying from Alzheimer’s at the time, did. They were pinned to a bulletin board in her nursing home room. She likely woke up every day to those photos, trying to remember the faces of her grandchildren. Meanwhile, I was forgetting what I had right in front of me.

As parents, we are all stressed in the moment. Whatever stage we are in, whether it’s coping with our toddler’s ninth tantrum of the day or questioning their whereabouts after school. They comes and they go.

And we move with them. We reorganize their rooms. We bag up the Beanie Babies. We delete photos from our too-full iPhone. We throw away old Valentines, or maybe keep one or two favorites.

We stop making construction paper Valentines with them.

It’s what I did. It’s what we all do. But today, the Valentines came back, from my mom, who has been gone now for almost six years. They took me back so dizzyingly fast, tokens of love that travelled miles and years. It makes me wonder, what in the end will be thrown away? What will be saved? What will be forgotten? What will be remembered?

It’s up to us to decide. Or, sometimes not.

About the Author

Trish

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