I lost interest in the holiday long ago. It has always felt like we have to muster a prefab feeling for all those cornball heart-shaped candies and flowers.
Actually Valentine’s Day reminds me of my folks. No, not because they were married for sixty-two years, but because they decided to celebrate by buying each other a cremation. I’d be lying if I said I’d found a nice neat compartment in my brain to house that joyous expression of love.
Now I realize it was a gift for their children. They saved us from having to wing it at an emotional time. It was all paid for, right down to the last upsetting detail.
As my parents forged their twilight years they discussed death and dying as if new friends they didn’t care to meet. Of course they wanted to be responsible, leaving no loose ends to chance…but at the same time, making it quite clear they had no plans to vacate the premises.
I suppose all these conversations about dying were a preparation of sorts. A form of shattering the illusion that the moments will last forever or that there is greatness in existence…a seriousness in holding onto material things and being able to pass them forward. Or maybe we all share a secret longing for solitude …a deep mysterious living need to die. Hell if I know…I’m still trying to take down my Christmas lights.
Maybe that’s why I found this morning’s call from a funeral home somewhat entertaining. I’ve received robocalls in the past, but this was different.
“Congratulations,” the female voice chirped. “Your name has been chosen in our annual drawing and you’ve just won a free burial plot!”
“Wow”, I said. “This is truly my lucky day! A six-foot patch of dirt all my own. Me…a frickin’ landowner! Let me catch my breath. Too much glee could stop the old ticker and I want to savor this moment.”
I know she must have thought I was nuts, and she had every right to go there. But, come on. It was over the top. Her cheerful voice…the image of a raffle at a funeral home…basically, the whole idea that someone could become downright giddy over an underground storage unit started me on a trajectory of revelations.
See how I segue? Just when you think I’m going to badger some poor funeral home employee who is just doing her job, I untie the tether and send the conversation free falling. You see, my brain is like a door ajar, and any little breeze causes it to swing on its hinges and bang away through the night like a call girl at a sales convention.
So there I sat…waiting for her to explain all the hidden costs associated with my new narrow home when my mind spiraled to the last Valentine’s Day with my parents. I brought them a box of chocolates filled with hard caramels. Yes, I know it was not a good idea…but we opened it anyway and proceeded to pull out our fillings.
While digging nuggets out of our molars, we discussed where to scatter their ashes. My dad mentioned that one of his friends’ remains are on a golf course where he made a hole in one.
“That’s pretty shallow.” I said aloud, although I should have kept my caramel trap shut.
Besides, who am I to judge? Maybe that was the greatest experience of his life. Possibly there was nowhere else he’d rather be than in a small dark hole where golf balls are knocked in daily.
I’m starting to depress myself. Besides, I’m no spring chicken. Youth came and went as if I slept through an entire evolutionary drift. No doubt about it…I’m flying down the backside of the Bell Curve with my arms raised high in the air and screaming so loud you can hear me in a past life. Soon men with their trousers up to their nipples will be asking me to Starbucks to do crosswords together.
So I guess on that note I’ll end with…Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!