by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Valentine memories come in many kinds. I remember one year when I hired an actor who offered to provide an unforgettable experience for the one you love for $100. On the phone we went through the performance he offered. Bill, the actor, took notes.
I made a special dinner for my husband and our five children that night. Dessert was strawberry meringue torts slathered with whipped cream. We had just started eating these when the actor, Bill, popped in the unlocked front door. He said he would be dressed like Cupid, but I had not realized he also was shaped like cupid, round and chubby. He was wearing a quiver of arrows and holding a bow, dressed in a modest diaper. He filled the room with song and a sprinkling of confetti.
Prancing around our dining room he serenaded my dumb struck husband. Craig had never been quiet before, but his eyes were riveted on Bill, not noticing when confetti landed on his face. Cupid's song finished, Bill unfurled a scroll which I had written, addressed to Craig, my husband. On one knee he read the poem aloud, with additions of his own.
Then, Cupid handed valentines to the kids, ages 23 – 6, and trilling a final farewell, he vanished.
I enjoyed every minute of it, still smiling when I remember today.
But the reality of Valentine's Day is very different and much more poignant and compelling.
The man who comes down to us as Saint Valentine was executed for secretly marrying couples in violation of the Edict of Emperor Claudias the Second in the year 269AD. The ban came from the theory unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what could happen to their wives or families if they died..
Valentine performed marriages for Christians despite the ban. He was caught, imprisoned and tortured. While in prison he performed miracles which included returning the sight of a young girl, this resulting in her father, Asterius' conversion to the Christian faith.
Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation because of his stand for Christian marriage. The last words he wrote were in a note written to Asterius' daughter, signed, "from your Valentine."
One day in a year to fill with memories. Love connects us to each other. Love lavishly and let your heart speak.