Re­flect­ing on the weird­est Valen­tine’s Day on record

The Covington News - - Sunday Living -

The fly­ing turkey should’ve been suf­fi­cient warn­ing that I was in for my weird­est Valen­tine’s Day ever.

I didn’t see the hu­mon­gous wild turkey in my back yard un­til it scared me half to death, zoom­ing over­head when I let the dogs out that morn­ing. The only turkey I’m familiar with is the kind re­lax­ing on a plat­ter with stuff­ing ooz­ing out its back­side. I didn’t know turkeys hung out in neigh­bor­hoods, or that they could fly. I wish the boys had been there to see it.

My fa­ther-in-law got mar­ried on Valen­tine’s Day, in Florida. At the last minute, it worked out for Don­nie and our boys to drive down there for the wed­ding. So my valen­tine’s gift was an un­ex­pected three days of soli­tude— and I am al­ways thank­ful for th­ese rare, quiet times. It didn’t end up feel­ing very peace­ful, though.

The phone rang just af­ter day­break on Fe­bru­ary 14. It was Don­nie, call­ing to let me know that our son Eli had a fever. I could hear my lit­tle guy whim­per­ing in the back­ground. My heart sank into my stom­ach and I felt com­pletely, ut­terly help­less. I’ve never been sep­a­rated from my chil­dren when they were sick.

Sick kids want Mama, and sud­denly all the im­por­tant rea­sons I needed to stay home didn’t feel so im­por­tant. I just wanted to hold my lit­tle boy.

Praise the Lord for free cell phone min­utes be­cause we called each other all day long. Don­nie found aWal­Mart to buy all the “sick kid” stuff that would’ve been in my lug­gage had I gone along. Be­cause we Moms, we’re pre­pared. Don­nie had to learn the hard way, through do­ing the “sick shop­ping” alone, why it takes me so long to pack for va­ca­tions. My end of the con­ver­sa­tion sounded like this.

“Make sure you buy Eli some Sprite. That’s his fa­vorite when he’s sick. The Motrin has to be berry-fla­vored and get the bub­ble gum Tylenol. How much to give him? Just look on the back for his weight. 43 pounds. No, it doesn’t mat­ter if the ther­mome­ter has a flexible tip. They only have a pur­ple one? That’s fine. I don’t care if he thinks it’s girly — he’s sick. No, put back the rain­bow Gold­fish crack­ers—they might stain the car­pet if he throws up.”

The high­light of my day came later. What kind of mo­ron sched­ules a gy­ne­co­log­i­cal exam on Valen­tine’s Day? One who doesn’t have her hus­band at home, I guess. As I sat in the doc­tor’s lobby, a florist de­liv­ered a huge bou­quet of roses and two heart-shaped boxes of choco­late to one of the nurses. She com­mented that this was the sec­ond de­liv­ery from her man. What a con­trast he was from the John­nies-come-lately I saw scur­ry­ing around Kroger when I went shop­ping there af­ter­ward.

It was highly en­ter­tain­ing to watch the flood of des­per­ate hus­bands and boyfriends grab­bing up bou­quets, bal­loons, and candy as though their lives de­pended upon it. For some of them, it prob­a­bly did.

One young man was pac­ing the valen­tine aisle, mut­ter­ing, “I can’t find any­thing with Sponge Bob! She wants Sponge Bob.” He turned to me, wideeyed and anx­ious. “Have you seen candy with Sponge Bob on it?”

An­other man asked me to help him find coat­ing for choco­late-cov­ered straw­ber­ries. I pointed to­ward the bak­ing aisle and ex­plained that he could just melt choco­late chips ac­cord­ing to the pack­age di­rec­tions. He said, “No, it comes in a lit­tle cup. They make it in a cup and you just put it in the mi­crowave!” I ex­plained that while I’ve seen those cups, Kroger might not carry them. I as­sured him that mi­crowav­ing choco­late chips would pro­vide the same re­sult.

The look of panic that crossed his face was one I’d seen on my own hus- band count­less times be­fore. His sim­ple recipe just be­came mind-bog­glingly com­plex and this big, strong, in­tel­li­gent-look­ing man didn’t ap­pear to have the for­ti­tude to make choco­late-cov­ered ber­ries if it meant he had to open a bag of chips into his own bowl at home.

When I got home, I found our dog, An­nie, sit­ting at the gate, wag­ging and wait­ing for me. Our other dog, Molly was right be­side her— in the neigh­bor’s yard. I searched for a hole un­der the fence but found noth­ing to ex­plain how she got over there. I know that our neigh­bor, Ed, loves Miss Molly. Typ­i­cal teenager— she ditched her fam­ily to hang out with her boyfriend on Valen­tine’s Day.

So I didn’t get to cud­dle with my hus­band or my boys on the day ded­i­cated to love. But my mom, grand­mother, sis­ter and I shared a good home-cooked sup­per to­gether to cel­e­brate our love for each other. It was a sweet end­ing to an oth­er­wise pe­cu­liar day.

There she is: Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies Ernie Smith, left, presents Miss Jor­dyn Caines with a color­ful lol­lipop bou­quet which each con­tes­tant in the pageant re­ceived af­ter com­plet­ing the Ques­tion/ An­swer por­tion of the pageant.

Kari Apted

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