I’ve had the good fortune to be married to my valentine for many years, so Valentine ‘s Day is a non-event.
But, that very first valentine is hard to forget. When you are in first grade, the discovery that someone other than those who are required to do so, find you special is thrilling.
Stylish Wellington boots were not part of my rainy day attire. I had to wear hideous rubber galoshes with awful buckles on them. I could never manage the buckles and to make things worse they smelled like burnt rubber. I prayed for someone to steal them.
Jessie Ray adopted me I suppose because he was accustomed to taking care of kids. The eldest of a horde of kids, he was raggedy poor and tattered but always had a big smile. Jessie was my galoshes hero. I never asked him, but he helped me unbuckle in the morning and re-buckle when it was time to go home.
First grade was my first Valentine celebration. I brought valentines for everyone and put them in a fancy pink box where they would be “delivered” by the teacher during our party. I could hardly wait to see if I got any cards.
If I received other cards, I don’t remember them, but the card I remember the most was from Jessie. It had candy hearts dancing across the front; delivered in person by Jessie, probably the only card he could afford to bring.
The summer after first grade, Jessie drowned in a swimming accident.
Jessie will always be my first valentine.
If there’s such a place as heaven, I hope Jessie went to the part where it never rains, there are no smelly galoshes and he gets lots of cards on Valentine day.