Sunday, February 11, 2007

My Secret Valentine

Author, Robert Fulghum shares his favorite Valentine's Day memory:
"It sits on a shelf at the top of my closet. Once it was a shoebox, decorated for Valentine's Day and given to me by my oldest child. Its components are standard: Three colors of construction paper-pink and red and white-faded now. Aluminum foil, several paper doilies, three kinds of macaroni, gumdrops, jellybeans, some little white hearts with words on them (the kind that taste like Tums), and the whole thing held together with a lot of white library paste."

"This shoebox valentine is shriveled and moldy where the jellybeans and gumdrops have run together. It's sticky in places. But it's a repository of childhood relics given to me by my children."

"If you lift the lid, you'll know what makes me keep it. On folded and faded and fragile pieces of large-lined school paper are the words: "Hi daddi" and "Hoppy valimtime" and "I lov you." Glued to the bottom of the box are 23 X's and O's made of macaroni. Scrawled in several places are the names of three children. It's the product of love in its most uncomplicated and trustworthy state."

"The children are grown now. They still love me, though it's harder sometimes to get direct evidence. And it's love that's complicated by age and knowledge. Love, to be sure, but not simple. Not something you could put in a shoebox."

"No one else knows the sticky old valentine is there. Once in a while I take it down and open it. It is something I can touch and hold and believe in, now that there are no small arms around my neck."

"It is my treasure chest. And it stands for love. Bury it with me. I want to take it along as far as I go."

Image: Robert Fulghum

Source: Jack Canfield et al, Chicken Soup for the Father’s Soul (Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications Inc., 2001), 36-37.