My father, a solid man, stood his ground in a house full of women. My mother, sister and I adored my father and listened for hours to his tall tales because we felt that if he told them they were likely true.
My father, a proud man, spoke highly of "his girls" to strangers and told who ever would listen, the things that my sister and I had achieved.
My father, a comic sensation, loved the holidays. On Christmas, he'd dress up like Santa and take gifts and food over to families in the housing projects. On Thanksgiving, he delivered turkeys to those in need.
My father, could tell a joke like no other making senior citizens chuckle and blush at the nursing home when we visted my grandmother.
Of all of these holidays, Valentine's Day is more memorable to me because of my father.
As far back as I could remember, Valentine's Day meant my father bringing a small box of chocolate each accompanied with a card and a stuffed animal for both my sister and I. My mom would always get a large vase of beautiful roses and some lovely inscription in a card that us children never got to see.
As I grew into my teenage years, my father would scribble "I am proud of you" in my card as I ventured off to high school. His arthritis had made his signature of "Dad" barely legible. Yet, I felt special.
I flowed into my 20's and my dad and his Valentine's Day gifts continued with "I love you." carefully printed inside of a kiddie card sitting next to a stuffed animal and a candy rose. I lived away from home and he would make sure I stopped by to see him so he could witness the silly smile on my face as I received my gifts.
Even after a massive stoke, my father,struggling to live, pulled in the resources of his son-in-laws to be sure to pick up a card, candy and stuffed animal from him to each of his "special girls."
Now, Valentine's Day is a hard holiday for me to cope with. I am tearful now as I write this because my father has since passed away. I can never forget his geniune love for us and how I miss him so much.
Some times, my life is in need of that silly little bear and chocolate heart from my father to tell me that he is still proud of me. I appreciate the way my father helped me feel like I was special and that I mattered to him no matter what was going on in his life. He has always been my favorite Valentine.
Because of my father, Valentine's Day has a totally different meaning to me. It doesn't mean spending hundreds of dollars to show you care. Nor does it involve a mass of words that you should have said all year long.
It means consistantly being there and showing that you care in the simplest of ways. It means to love in a way so strong that even through death, it sustains those you left behind.
Happy Valentine's Day, Dad.
I truly wish you all as well a wonderful Valentine's Day. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, and while you are at it, follow me on Twitter @TheRealJoyRene.