I still have scars from second grade, in the days before political correctness when school kids didn’t have to bring a Valentine for everyone in the class. I can still see painfully shy, ridiculously crew-cutted Bobby Varettoni with only two cards at my desk while all my classmates had dozens.
And thank you, Annemarie Shapiola and Maureen Dunn, wherever you are. I think you saved my life.
My mother – who, all her life, has been popular and outgoing – has no doubt received thousands of Valentine’s Day cards over the course of her lifetime. At 83, she still gets excited about the holiday, and she has always sent cards to me and my wife, Nancy, and to our daughters.
However, at 83, my mother is no longer steady on her feet, and she slipped and fell (it’s icy in New Jersey) when trying to mail this year’s batch of cards.
She’s fine. Just a bruise on her hip.
Still, it led to an interesting phone call with my daughter who’s away at college. She said she had been shopping for Valentine cards, but was afraid to buy one for Grandma precisely because “with my luck, she’ll trip and fall while going out to the mailbox.”
She was joking, of course – so, of course, I egged her on.
“And then you’d be responsible for her death, right?”
“Well, knowing Grandma, first she’d sop up the blood with the envelope of my card, and then she’d crawl back inside the house, display the card next to her chair, then phone to thank me.”
“You know, even if you don’t get her a card, she’s still going to go out to the mailbox every day to look for a Valentine from you. And then you’d disappoint her.”
“So I’m guilty no matter what?”
“Exactly!” I replied. “Welcome to my life.”
It’s a vicious cycle – and here it is, Friday the 13th, and I didn't even buy a card for my wife. Instead, I’ve made her a card that references Brian Williams. Hopefully, she’ll think it’s romantic and cute.
It’s certainly not as slick as the card my daughter bought for my mother. She called last night to say, “Bobby, your daughter just sent me the most beautiful, beautiful Valentine’s Day card ever!”
My daughter is a survivor.