February 14, 2015 10:40:46 PM
Circumstances occasionally take a strange turn when you write this kind of column. Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and I thought I would try to comment on some aspect of that special day, even though it is the same thing every year. Maybe this time, I thought, I would try asking some people what their favorite, or most interesting, or unusual valentine was. Just a bit of froth for a sentimental observation. Well, it did not turn out to be frothy at all. In fact, it turned somber.
I brought the subject up in a very small group of women about my age, all widows. One recalled a Christmas gift, a necklace, that came late for Christmas, but in time for Valentine's Day. The tragedy was her husband had died before it ever came.
Two others remembered Valentine's Days when their husbands were hospitalized not long before they had died, also. Both were touched that these men, while ill and confined to the hospital, had made arrangements to get a Valentine gift delivered to them.
It was a far cry from the decorated shoe boxes stuffed with paper valentines and pieces of candy that we remember from classroom days as school children. It was also a long way from a special dinner out at a nice restaurant when we were busy young couples. It was, in fact, sad. Even so, there was a kind of happiness.
We were sitting at the bridge table, and the strange thought came in the language of the game: Love trumps sadness.
Maybe there is a life lesson here. No one, not even the luckiest among us, gets through this life without his own personal tragedies. We pick ourselves up, square our shoulders, and soldier on. Maybe we sometimes lean on a crutch, and the steadiest crutch of all is love.
The kind of love people lean on when life gets really tough is not the stuff of frivolity or a sometimes trivial holiday. The love we truly celebrate, whether it be for sweetheart, spouse, parent, child or friend, is the nourishment that puts strength in our hearts and a spring in our steps. It is, as the song says, what "makes the world go round."
Love is that quality that helps us weather the inevitable storms of life. It is the figurative hand we clasp when we need it most.
It is not limited to us human beings, either. Have not all of us seen instances of devotion in our fellow members of the animal kingdom? We think of our pets primarily, but we have seen it happen also when animals share devotion, and often between species.
It transcends life itself and certainly time. Shakespeare wrote:
"Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove;
Oh, no! It is an ever fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd, I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd."
True love is steadfast, not fickle. No wonder we celebrate Valentine's Day. While we are at it, perhaps we should slip in a little Thanksgiving as well.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.