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Sunday, February 14, 2016

My First Valentine

The box itself is tiny, no more than an inch and a half square made of brass. A heart decorates the center and there is a tiny floral motif. Hundreds of scratches have been etched onto it over the course of years. The original golden color has been worn down to the base metal in some areas.

Still, the box holds something very precious -- the memory of a little girl's first Valentine's Day, given to her by the most important man in her life at the time.

Whenever he gave a gift to his wife on such a holiday, the little girl was also the recipient of a smaller version. This was a small compact designed to hold powder and a little puff, with a mirror on the inside cover. Those items are all gone now, lost in years and distance and a series of events which turned the family upside down. The family lived in Havana, Cuba and on a fateful day they chose to leave their home for the United States, not ever to return.

The parents told the little girl that she could take a few things with her to the airport. The child chose the box to join her in the new life she knew nothing about. Somehow it survived the passage of decades and was not lost along with other juvenile things.

A lesson is to be learned here, one that fathers with daughters may already know. That small thing you give your daughter, or tell her, might be something she hangs onto for dear life, especially after you are gone. If you do things right, you, her first Valentine, will pass along a legacy that she is worth a great deal, that she is loved, and that she should be loved by another Valentine with whom she opts to live her life.

For all fathers reading this, I wish for your Valentine's Day that your daughter recalls you with as much love as I still have for mine even though he has been gone for years. The small heart on the box was his and I will carry it with me forever.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

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