And what are Valentine-like-loves? They can be of a Romantic nature but often they are not. They are simply people I have known throughout a lifetime that gave me confidence, courage, comfort, and worth.
Simply put, what you might call easy friendships with the kind of people that always, and forever, give comfort and security without a trace of aggravation or qualm.
I came to realize this Valentine-like-love representation only this morning in discussion with a friend who dropped in for coffee. In our conversation a name came up so familiar to me because the name mentioned was a fellow who lived near my parents’ house throughout my childhood years.
The name was Mr. Jolly. One of the friendliest, jolliest people one could ever hope to find. He lived alone for many years but eventually when I was in Junior High, he married a dear, sweet lady, as jolly and friendly as he. Wonderful people they were in every respect.
But after I married and moved from my childhood home district, I seldom saw Mr. Jolly and his jolly wife. But nothing changed. Even at that, he and his wife forever remained as friendly and jolly and open to chatting with me as they always had, despite geographic separation and infrequent encounters.
Now I was quite taken aback this morning when Mr Jolly's name came up in a coffee conversation. Surprised that a neighbor in this area that I now live in also knew him. Immediately I expressed in glowing terms how much I honored Mr. Jolly's goodwill and generosity. My coffee-friend listened and heartily agreed with my assessment, but then…and that’s when…she asked me if I was aware that Mr. Jolly passed away some years ago.
Immediately I was so deeply saddened – my soul awash with dismay, loss, and even a kind of isolation. But then slowly, I came to the realization that I knew that. I did. I already knew that. But with that blessed failing memory, I had forgotten and the forgetting was truly sweet.
I have thought and continue to think of the Jolly Man and his jolly wife so often. And when I do I smile and I am so happy when I think of them. Happy because I remember them only in the present tense. How lovely they ‘are’, and how lovely the discourse in my mind of their easy friendship, easy pleasantness, and jolly nature.
It is so nice to be comfortable with present confidence, and unmindful that Mr. Jolly is gone and she in a retirement place. I prefer it that way. Sorrow and loneliness eradicated. All that so direly chills the heart with the loss of good friends tucked away out of mind.
I am well aware that to others, this is a derogatory thing, this living a life of ‘fancy’ rather than ‘fact’. All I say to that is, “Excuse me, Sophists of Society, insist if you must on factual and scientific data for youthful years, but not for the elderly. Being old is not an easy path and in treading it, fancy is what softens the pains of physical and mental impoverishment.
And so, in conclusion, in Way IV, I give you only this one small sample of February comforts and Valentine-like-loves. There are more. Many of my dear friends are gone, but I forget that as I ponder special times we once shared when we conducted heart exchanges like Valentines.
And so what I am left with is a discriminatory memory that allows me to ponder what lovely friends (in present tense) I have. How fond I am of them, how strong and comforted I am because of them. How fixedly they remain an immortal abstraction within my heart and mind.
And so, I wonder if perhaps, in some oblique way, that here, in Way IV, we factually and scientifically found the fundamental cause of the oft-found-conviction of after-life immortality in the hearts of the aged because long-term memories are immortalized and short-term memories die such a premature death.
So Old Age? – Bring it on! In as many ‘Ways’ as there may be. And in that, let me be short-term-forgetful, as long as with long-term-memory, I retain the immortal companionship of all my many Valentines.
[“The Ways of the Elderly” could, I think, be a rather grand epistle. I invite you to do a “Way”. There is nothing sophisticated about my blog so if you have thoughts to add, post them in my comments section and I will pull them out and add them to the other “Ways”. Or post them on your own blog and let me know.
I say this half-jokingly, half-serious, because I don’t really know if anyone will use this prompt to divulge the secrets of present time and place that the Elderly are so disinclined, or unable, to tell.]