Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Will you be my (elderly) valentine?

 It’s Valentines Day in the retirement community, and love is in the air!

It’s also on our doors. The Community Life department has instituted what appears to be an annual Valentines Day contest. Several weeks ago, we all received a red piece of paper with a large heart on it. Our instructions were to decorate it in any way we wanted and to put in on our door. This is a contest, we were told, with prizes (or not—I don’t remember that part). Some good American competition to spur us along!

Actually, only some residents get excited about this artistic challenge. A good number think it’s silly and ignore the whole thing. The neighborhood I belong to is one of the enthusiastic floors, meaning about a third of the rooms have valentine art up on their doors. I am ambivalent; I think it’s sort of silly, but I’ve done it anyway. Entered the contest. After I, I don’t want to be a wet blanket. Not in this cold weather.

I’ve enjoyed walking through the different neighborhoods and seeing the artwork. A common theme is wedding photos, black and white, of course, as most of us couples got married a very long time ago. Many widows and a few widowers also decorate wedding photos in honor of the one they lost. A lot of the artwork is spiritual with pictures of Jesus or verses of Scripture. And some of the door-art is downright funny, in full disrespect of the deep purposes of Valentines Day. These are my favorites.

Here is a sampling, taken from last year and this year:


I drew a somewhat misshapen heart (not being a fan of symmetrical) and put a quirky love poem (not being a fan of Hallmark) in the middle.

A Sort Of Love Poem

When I say
thus and such
and you respond with
such and that
I almost begin to realize
that you didn’t at all understand
my this and there
thinking it instead to be
and then I correcting spout
how as what
but you come back with
why and wherefore
and I meaning to point out
because furthermore and

Oh, forget it!
Come kiss me.

I’ll probably not win the prize.

In a more serious tone, one of my favorite poems on love between a couple who have been married a long time is by Wendell Berry. It gives tribute to the value of a seasoned love where friendship has grown and the couple continue to enjoy their life together. There are couples like that in this community and I’m thankful for them.

The Wild Rose

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart,

suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once more I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

When it’s all said and done, I have to admit that there's lots of love in this old growth forest.

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