It was just a simple valentine, a red and purple heart,
cut out and pasted lovingly, one day in children’s art.
The message written carefully said simply ‘I love you’
in childish, block letters of crayola midnight blue.
The rough and crooked edges had been tattered more with time
and the old construction paper bore small prints in yellow grime.
There were water marks and creases where the card had once been bent
and the fold had thinned throughout the years till, now, the card was rent.
I had long forgotten making it, a grown man, now, was I.
But the sight of that old Valentine, somehow, just made me cry.
You see, that childish Valentine, she’d kept for all this while,
became a precious treasure, for my mom, that made her smile.
All the nurses at the nursing home had seen it many times
when she held in in her weathered hand and even said sometimes
she would read the simple sentiment, then sigh, and simply say
“I’m sure he’s really busy but he’ll visit me some day.”
Then one day turned to another and somewhere two decades past
as she waited at the nursing home for visits till at last
her broken heart quit beating and my mother finally died,
alone there in that empty room with no one by her side.
It was tucked in her belongings that simple, worn out card;
a memory of more pleasant times when I had more regard
for the things that are important - for friends and family -
so, now, this tattered valentine will always serve to be
a stark, sincere reminder that my life is far too fleeting
to spend it making money when all the while I’m cheating
my wife, my kids, my brothers - and I swear I’ll change tonight.
I won’t pass up another chance to make things turn out right.
So, mother if your watching, this memory I’ll impart -
of you, my childhood valentine, forever in my heart.