If I had to pick two iconic lovers to represent my parents it wouldn’t be Scarlett and Rhett or Kathy and Heathcliff. Undoubtedly, it would by Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. My father, originally from Argentina, never lost his charming Latin accent. My mother, although lacking the signature “Lucy” red hair, always seemed to have some money-making scheme up her sleeve to help make ends meet. From hosting garage sales to selling our wares at church craft shows; mom did everything she could to take some of the financial load off my hard working, auto mechanic father.
Oddly enough, mom and dad met in high school on a school trip to a “dude” ranch. Because nothing says romance like piles of horse manure and flies, right? Despite the less than desirable setting, they instantly connected. They were each other’s first love. Probably each other’s first “everything.”
Growing up in the 1980’s, there was no such thing as parents having “date nights.” My mom never left us with anybody, not even her own mother (my grandmother) who lived beneath us in our two story house. She dedicated her life to her children. Dad dedicated his life to providing for his children.
There was arguing. Sometimes it was the quiet, whispering kind. Sometimes it was the all out screaming kind. Mom and dad could fight hard, but they loved harder. One of my favorite memories as a little girl was watching my dad chase my mom around our dining room table as she snapped a towel at him. I loved the sound of my mother laughing. It was times like that when I could clearly see how they truly were each other’s everything.
On Valentine’s Day dad always took care of his girls – my mom, my two younger sisters and me. Every year he would buy my mom a single red rose, which she would proudly display on our kitchen counter. My sisters and I would each receive a big box of Russell Stover’s caramels. Daddy made us each feel special. It was wonderful to be somebody’s Valentine.
One particular Valentine’s Day when I was in junior high school, my dad went a little above and beyond his usual tactics. Instead of the single red rose he normally bought for my mom he came home with a dozen red roses. My mom stared at him blankly when he walked through the door. “What did you do?” she asked. With a big smile, my dad handed her the flowers. “Are you stupid?” She was really upset, angry even. The evening didn’t get any better from there as an argument ensued about the overabundance of red roses sitting on our kitchen counter. My dad got pissed, gave us our candy and called it a night.
I remember thinking to myself… “what an ungrateful bitch.” I thought what my father had done was incredibly sweet and romantic. That night before bed I asked my mother why she was so angered by her Valentine’s Day gift. My mom, still visibly upset said…
“It’s the one day out of the year when florists charge a fortune for flowers. Daddy works hard. He doesn’t need to be throwing away money on roses to show me he loves me. When somebody loves you, really loves you, “one” rose means just as much as one dozen.”
Fast forward twenty years and I’m now the mother of two daughters. Money certainly doesn’t grow on trees. I also do what I can to help my husband make ends meet for our household; whether it’s doing some freelance writing or working my day job. Since having my children, I can honestly tell you that there has been more than one occasion when I have looked in the mirror and seen my mother’s face staring back at me (even as a blind woman)! What’s even scarier is when I open my mouth and all of a sudden my mother flies out! It’s one of the many reasons why I have my therapist on speed dial. That being said, the older I get the more sense my mother appears to make.
Valentine’s Day has always been one of my absolute favorite holidays. Like my dad, I’m just a hopeless romantic. Prior to having children, my husband would shower me with gifts every February 14th. But the year my daughter, Nuala, was born we had a very specific conversation, ending with this sentence…
“When somebody loves you, really loves you, “one” rose means just as much as one dozen.”
The past three Valentine’s Days, I have received a card and a “single” red rose, usually from a local 7-11 or gas station. I “ooh” and “ahhh” over it in front of my daughters and put it in a vase on my kitchen counter. My husband gives each of his girls a Valentine’s Day card and some little token of affection. They love every second of it. My three-year-old even brags that “Daddy is her special Valentine.”
I was wrong for thinking badly of my mother all those years ago. My dad’s heart was most certainly in the right place, but sometimes as parents we need to be more financially practical. It’s part of the sacrifice we make when we commit to raising children. My mom always put her kids first. She knew daddy loved her. I think she even knew it that day at the dude ranch.
Never the less I learned an important lesson from my mom that day. The gifts that truly show us we are loved don’t have to be extravagant. Romance can be in the little things, like the single rose on my kitchen counter, with the hand written card that says “I love you.”
© Holly Bonner and Blindmotherhood 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Bonner and Blindmotherhood with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.