My Funny Valentine

Today was our 24th morning with below zero temps.

The weather’s getting old, both for me and my handsome man Rex.

Midwestern winters can get a lot worse than this one, still we both knew we needed to shake off our sour attitudes some.

Rex grabbed his napping brother Tucker’s letter jacket for an early Valentine’s date at our favorite coffee and crepe shop.

We immediately knew we’d scored a win as we walked in the door and smelled the sweet scents from the oven.

Though my glasses were steamed up as I approached the counter, I could see there was one chocolate chip cookie left just for us though Rex preferred the long, thin crispy wafer that came with our cappuccino.

Rex was attracting more than a few smiles in spite of a mohawk that’s gone radically rogue. In fact, I even thought I caught him winking back at a couple of stylish young ladies at the next table glancing his direction.

But then a slightly older, smiling woman walked up to us and said, “Oh, but I can tell he’s a good boy. In fact, a VERY good boy! I can see it in his eyes.”

Suddendly Rex looked up at me for a moment and gave me some sweet and gentle kisses on my hand.

I warmly nodded at the woman and told her, “Oh, yes. This loving Valentine is most definitely a winner.”

Commited to Love

“You could divorce your husband,” the young man on the other side of the desk told me sporting a somewhat pained expression.

I sensed it wasn’t his favorite option.

Mine either.

I’d made an appointment to gain advice on how to survive an approaching tsunami of expenses involved with caring for my husband’s early onset dementia.

That conversation with the professional is like many other heart wrenching memories of caring for a middle aged 200 pound man whose memory was fading fast.

Fortunately I find the toughest recollections have now faded a bit as well, stopping by for brief interludes on holidays like Valentine’s Day along with the very good ones.

I said hello to a little photograph in the red frame this morning of my late husband and me.

It was taken the night before our wedding at my parents’ home.

They’ve also since passed on from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

But I smiled as I held it.

It was a great celebration filled with love.

And today I will celebrate only my good memories.

In addition, I will honor the new ones I am making this Valentine’s Day.

I’ll be coloring bright red and pink paper hearts shortly with some little ones.

Then spreading sweet cheer later on with some very special seniors.

And finally, I will rest well this night with my loving four legged furry friends at my feet.

It seems anyway I look at it, love is still a wonderful commitment.

Hearts and hounds

“Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.” – Buddha

I was asked to take a small piece of paper from a basket as I walked into the studio room for an exercise class last Sunday.

“It’s an affirmation,” I was told by the smiling instructor. “Take one if you’d like.”

I did, and slowly unfolded it.

“Seek joy,” it read.

A good one I thought for a bitter cold week.

Especially since I wasn’t feeling sweet at all.

The Valentine’s Day holiday can do that to a girl, especially when you’re buying your own chocolates.

My rational side knows it’s just another Hallmark holiday, so I was happy to re-focus on a quest for joy.

Still, I mailed a few Valentines to friends and family.

And I addressed a box of playful kitten and puppy Valentines for some young kids I work with for their annual party.

I found myself smiling as I wrote them out.

And I smiled even more as I received some in return.

Such incredible handmade cards they were, full of carefully constructed red hearts and painstakingly written “I love you”s.

My own heart skipped a beat.

I was so impressed by their generous spirit and good work. I wanted to do the same.

But how?

Then running an errand later at the local animal shelter, I had an idea.

I dug deep into the bottom of my purse for an extra Valentine. I had tossed a few in, just in case I came across someone who needed a day brightener.

And I had just met a candidate.

He was a 5 year old hound dog with soulful eyes.

A new tripod, he’d recently had surgery to remove one of his back legs.

The poor fellow still looked a bit sluggish from the operation, but had a special sparkle in his eye.

I walked over to the adoption desk, to inquire about his chances for finding a family. I knew the hound’s early days were tough ones.

“Well he actually has a prospect, and is on hold,” I was told.

Grinning, I thought about the average $147.00 spent this year by those celebrating Valentine’s Day on flowers that fade and cards that are tossed out with the trash.

But this sweet hound dog could fill someone’s heart with love for many years to come.

I quickly penned a puppy Valentine on behalf of Rex, a year old chi mix I adopted in December at the same shelter.

And then I handed the shelter associate three bills to help defray some of the hound’s adoption costs and hopefully seal the deal.

While waiting for my receipt, I saw a little shih tzu named Joy shimmying thru the busy reception area with a volunteer to meet up with his new mom.

On the speaker I then heard the words, “Joy is going home. Joy is going home!” Smiles spread quickly on all who heard.

Taking my receipt I walked out the front door to my car with my heart now full, led by sweet Joy all the way down the sidewalk.

And I whispered softly another quote I adore.

“In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.”
-W.H. Auden

If I had one, I know mine would have been wagging like crazy.