Mary Beth Writes

I wrote most of this for my newspaper column, February 14, 1997. But I subtracted a little, added a little; I guess it's a refurbished Valentines Day posting for you today.  I hope you have a lovely day. And that there will be a little chocolate in it.

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It was many years ago today that, after a few hours of studying in my grad school’s library, I decided I needed a break.  I walked out to the main hall of the school to slurp a drink at the drinking fountain.  While I was there, a flower shop van drove up; a guy got out and started carrying in a bud vase that held three red roses. 

It was exactly the kind of moment with which I was totally familiar.  Somebody else was going to receive a token of affection from their thoughtful and romantic significant other.  I felt wistful and more than a little melancholy, like a little kid with her nose pressed up to the window of someone else’s life. 

The delivery guy walked up to the receptionist. “These are for a Mary Beth Danielson, can you have them delivered to her?”

The receptionist looked over her glasses at me and grinned.  “Want them?”

As if that wasn’t enough, at that exact moment another guy walked down the hall.  He was the very handsome man who had decided a few weeks previously that he didn’t want to date me anymore.  I saw him from the corner of my eye, standing stiff as a telephone pole, as I lifted the roses to my nose and - playing the moment for all it was worth - sniffed them.

My life-luck was changing.  

Of course, since it was my life, the day did end up in what I’ve come to understand is my particular style.  The man who sent the roses also cooked a spectacularly romantic dinner that evening at his apartment.  I remember it well.  Pounded chicken breasts stuffed with spinach/pine nut filling and drizzled with champagne sauce. 

A half hour later I came down with the flu and lost my dinner. I stayed the night because I was too sick to go home.  He spent the night reading in his living room while I became intimately acquainted with his bathroom towels.

Len and I married a year later.

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 I still love to remember that dazzling moment when I looked up from the water fountain to learn that this time, the roses were for me.  Valentine moments are those amazing snippets of time when we realize that what we have to offer is what someone else wants to receive.

It can be as simple as that fleeting second when a neighborhood squirrel stands on your porch clutching an entire stale corn muffin to his furry little chest.  You put the muffins out there earlier.  Blizzardy winds now whip past him as he cocks his head to study you.  You decided to interpret the look in his eyes as gratefulness.  What you had to offer definitely made his day. 

A friend without kids of his own volunteers at kid clubs.  He tells me how it almost makes his heart stop when a kid comes up next to him to tuck their head under his arm and slide their arm around his waist.  

 “Maybe people with kids are used to that feeling.  I tell you, every time it happens I get tears in the back of my eyes.  To think that a child would trust me and want my hugs still blows me over.”

That’s a Valentine moment.  What each has to give is what the other wants to receive.

It’s sweet when Valentine’s Day is celebrated by young lovers.  (Although I think maybe we ought to give them Groundhog’s Day.  That’s the occasion where we celebrate a fellow sticking his head out of his burrow, looking around, and sometimes deciding to stick around to enjoy the sunshine.) 

Valentine’s Day should belong to all of us.  To those of us who gave life to our kids and who now joyfully receive back their lopsided and heavily-taped heart cards.  To people who need to make music - and to those of us who long to hear some.  To people who know how to teach - and to those who long to learn.  To those who like to listen and to those who need to tell their stories. To people who need humanitarian assistance to survive, and to people who give what they can to support those organizations.  We might not see with our own eyes the child in Bangladesh gobbling a lunch, or the woman waking from a successful surgery somewhere in Africa, or the homeless person in your own town filling their belly at a soup kitchen in a church basement – but these are all  valentine moments where we can give what others want to receive.

Four color “Buy Your Sweetheart this Bauble Now” flyers promise us romance - 1/3 off while quantities last.  But what most of us really want is someone to take the time to find a way to tell us that we what we have to offer is what makes their life sweet.

Roses, diamonds, or stale corn muffins - all work when the message is heartfelt. 

I hope a dear person gives you love today. And even more, I hope you give your love into the world, too.

                 

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Awww, love your Valentine story. Hope it was a great day for you, too.

Smiled th entire time I was reading ——- Happy Valentines Day, Gf!

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