The Sassy Sandpiper: Lovelier the Nth Time Around
By M.R. Wilson, TB Reporter
Valentine’s Day proclaims that the willingness to love endures.
Valentine’s Day is Tuesday! Are you ready? Cards, hearts, flowers, CHOCOLATE in stock? Dinner reservations made in some dark, cozy, uber-romantic restaurant? Renewing your wedding vows? Church and clergy appointed? Presenting a ring and asking The Question? Planning a quiet evening with your ferret and special gift of organic food that costs more than I spend for a month’s groceries?
Valentine’s Day is big business. Last year Americans laid out almost $20 BILLION for their beloved significant others, human and otherwise.
Quite amazing, says I, for a holiday that arose from the ancient Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia. Somewhere around 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius I put an end to all that pagan debauchery and declared February 14 a Christian feast day—St. Valentine’s Day. As long as I’m bemoaning history, let’s not forget this “feast day” commemorates the beheading of martyrs, the most beloved being
St. Valentine of Rome. He was convicted for marrying and ministering to Christian couples, who were persecuted at the time. As one legend goes, he cured his jailer’s daughter. Before his execution, St. Valentine wrote her a loving farewell note, signing it “Your Valentine.”
Aren’t we humans just the most curious creatures? But such is the way our Day of Hearts began.
What I really want to celebrate this Valentine’s Day is how the willingness to love endures, even if our hearts are broken repeatedly. I tell my single friends still-in-the-market, but teetering near the Jaded Forever list to keep their hearts open. The last time I offered this solace, my friend Sarah responded, “Bleack,” or “bleeech.” It was during an online chat, but I could envision her tongue lolling out in disgust. Okay.
Still I continue saying, “Keep your heart open.” I remain steadfastly confident giving this counsel. Couples reaching their Golden Anniversaries are a vanishing breed and divorce statistics are just plain sad. But many Second-Time-Arounders are happy together until death parts them. It almost seems like the majority of Americans have a “Starter Marriage” or “Marriage Training Wheels.” I don’t mean to trivialize the pain suffered along the way to a healthy, productive relationship. We are human, after all, flawed and blessed and bumbling our way through lives that have grown increasingly complex.
After a marriage or two, or a soul-shredding relationship or three or five, you might decide you’re just not companion “material,” hating everyone and trusting no one. Well, don’t.
I know a couple who didn’t meet until their fifties, each hurt and resigned to bleak futures devoid of joy. One afternoon they just happened to spy each other across the street. Eddy was home recovering from surgery. Meg was walking her dog. He just happened to be checking his mail at just the right time. Almost 30 years in the same neighborhood, they’d never laid eyes on each other. That was seven years ago. I heard they rode off in the sunset together and lived happily ever after.
Columns | The Sassy Sandpiper | Valentine’s Day | Tampa Bay Reporter
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