My lovely little Valentine: Happy 85th Birthday to you!

By Bill Shepard

On this Valentine’s Day of 2023, we celebrated your 85th birth date. I took you from the place where you have been resting all the years since you were first brought into existence, over fourscore years ago. I remember well that Valentine’s Day, a long, long time ago. The year was 1938. Can anyone imagine that you are that old? That you have been kept alive through so many years. Well, the secret is that you belonged to an Angel for all those years and angels know how to keep things forever, especially things they love. I remember the very day you came into being. Paper valentines are not born but they can have long lives. At least, you have! That day I visited the McClellan Dime Store which was located on the town square in the little mill town of Darlington, S.C. I frequented the store quite often and especially when I was looking for a gift for someone. This time I was looking for a valentine that I could purchase for a small amount. I found exactly what I was looking for. I bought a small package of valentines for a dime. Inside the package, there were a dozen or more small valentines. I planned to give one to the new preacher’s daughter that had recently moved to our town and lived near the village where I lived. Of course, I would have a problem giving it to her, as we never got to be close to each other. I would see her at Sunday School on Sundays, and occasionally, we might be in the same group of children, as we walked to and from school. Even so, we were never close. I always felt that she was forbidden to talk with a boy, and there was always a sister along to report if she did. My next problem was that I did not know how to spell her name. I put the little valentine in the small envelope and on the outside, I wrote, “Give to the preacher’s daughter.” The words are still on the envelope; the pencil markings are faded a little but still legible, just as they were written 85 years ago. I knew a lot of the older folks that attended the little church where my Angel went, so I knew I would get the valentine to my secret sweetheart. (She was my sweetheart whether she knew it or not.) I gave the little valentine to one of the ladies that went to the church and asked that she give it to the preacher’s daughter. I assumed that she did, but I was never certain. Imagine my surprise, years later, when the preacher’s daughter and I were married that my beautiful Angel showed me the little valentine that she had kept through the years since she was a thirteen-year-old girl and I had been a fifteen-year-old boy! Each of the following years, on Valentine’s Day, my Angel would receive that same little valentine, and I would write a love note to accompany it. It would then be placed back in her hope chest to await the next year when Valentine’s Day would come again. The years since she passed in November 2017, have been different. I take the little valentine from its resting place in Angel’s hope chest, whisper a love message to it and then place it back to await another Valentine’s Day. Angel is in Heaven; she passed away just two days after her 93rd birthday. The little valentine had been in her possession for nearly 80 years. This year I took the valentine from its resting place, kissed it gently, shed a tear or two, and then placed it back until next year. This is a poem I wrote about my Angel a long time ago: My Queen She was thirteen, my blue-eyed queen, When she came to our town. She had a little pug nose and chubby little toes,bis And her hair was a chestnut brown. She was a bashful little thing, my blue-eyed queen, And I’m sure it was love at first sight. And to change her name became my game, And I worked at it with all my might. She became my queen, that sweet little thing, And I crowned her the queen of my heart. She reigns on the throne of our humble little home, And nothing can cause us to part. We’ve been side by side through life’s short ride, We’ve traveled through good times and bad. She has the wisdom of the gods, and I’ll give you the odds, That without her, my life would be sad. To my beloved wife, who furnishes the inspiration for all that I do. __Bill

Author: Stephan Drew

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