It was two days before one of the best days of the year a second grader could ask for. The day a room full of rowdy seven-year olds passed out sweet little notes to one another and shared their best candy. Valentine’s Day! Right before the day’s dismissal bell rang, my teacher reminded everyone not to forget to bring their cards and candy. I gazed around at all the other kids excitement but couldn’t help but feel a tad gloomy at the idea because I just knew I wouldn’t be able to participate.
My mom was a single parent raising five kids alone in the projects. It was enough struggle for her to come up with finances for school supplies let alone having to come up with funds for extracurricular activities in school. We could expect to sit out of some events on occasion.
I remember coming home from school and asking my mom if I could stay home from school on Valentine’s Day. I’m sure everyone reading this can relate to what I’m about to say next. Without re-positioning any other part of her being, she slowly turned her head to me and gave me that look that not even FBI agents have been able to imitate. You know, that look that says you have about .03 seconds to promptly explain why your behind don’t want to go to school and it better not be because you’ve gotten in trouble or suspended. I said, “Ma, I have to bring cards and candy in for everybody in the class.” Then I sat down with the expectation of disappointment and waited on a response. She returned her focus to what she was doing at the table and said, “Alright Candy. Don’t worry about it.”
About an hour later I noticed my mom digging through the hallway closet. She pulled out a typewriter, which was one of her favorite toys. We all have those. She sat down at the kitchen table with typewriter, paper, pen and colored pencils in hand and begin to do what still amazes me this day. My mom personally typed out, illustrated, and handcrafted every single Valentine’s Day card I needed. I watched her work two full days for hours, even after working the third shift to make sure each card was exactly like the other. I’ll never forget the look of enjoyment and pleasure on her face while she was working on them. I’m pretty sure she had moments where she thought making the cards was a foolish idea and no one would like them. And she probably thought about quitting. Then it hit me. My mom wasn’t just doing this for me, she was doing it for herself. She finished late in the afternoon the eve before Valentine’s Day, put her tennis shoes on, scraped up all the change she had in her purse and around the house, walked up to the local corner store and bought a huge bag of assorted .1 cent candies. She put all the candy in a big bag and neatly placed the cards in a folder and put everything in my book bag.
I was so excited on the bus ride to school the next day. When I arrived to class, the teacher performed her usual morning routine and then announced we’d begin stuffing cards and candy into everyone’s Valentine’s Day bags. After the last kid completed their round of stuffing, we were given the go ahead to plunder our candy bags. I could hear all of the excitement and screams of, “Oh wow! I have a batman card!” And, “Oh look, it’s superman!” Immediately, knots grew in my stomach because I didn’t have any of the cool characters and I knew the kids were about to pick on me. Then, to my surprise, I heard a classmate say, “I have a comic card! I have comic card, just like the funnies! Look! It’s cool!” Suddenly, everyone began digging into their bags to find the like. They loved them. Talk about a sigh of relief. Phew!
Later that evening I told my mom all about it. I’ll never forget the look of pride on her face. Her first big feat! And it went off with a bang. I later learned how my mom had sacrificed some of her educational goals because of having to raise children on her own. That’s why the success of the Valentine’s Day cards was such a proud moment for her. She could have disappointed me. And she could have gone into her room and cried another woe is me about not having enough to do for her children. But she didn’t. She turned what could have been another sour disappointment in my childhood into a remarkable memory.
Those Valentine’s Day cards taught me a valuable lesson about turning what can’t be into a will be. Whenever I’m faced with difficult circumstances and situations, instead of immediately giving in and counting things a loss, I reflect back on those cards and I begin to do. Sounds a lot like faith right. My mom had no idea those cards would turn out as beautiful as they did. But she knew she didn’t want her child to face another disappointment. So, she began to do and she did. It’s my personal belief that the entire way through God guided her hands and helped her stayed focused when her eyes grew tired. As long as she didn’t give up the results would be majestic. And they were. It shouldn’t be any wonder why Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays.