A daddy’s girl never forgets her first Valentine. When mine died last month, I was writing about last 4th of July in Ohio, when I rode in the parade. Roe v Wade had just been knocked down. I was a Blue girl visiting a Red state and staying with my conservative dad. Little did I know that would be the last time I saw him.
A few weeks ago, I flew back to Ohio – that’s right, in January – and gave a eulogy to a standing room only crowd. I recounted how when I was little, he took me every where. How we were a team, like Batman and Robin. Now that I think of it, he helped me become a writer. He bought me the Harvard classics, 20 volumes of classic fiction (by men), published my first essay in his science magazine, and dropped my Junior High news column off at the local paper twice a month. He was an extraordinary man of great accomplishment and believed that I could be the same. He didn’t see me as a girl, and maybe that’s why it got tricky when I grew boobs and the world treated me differently.
But he’s also the one who taught me the motto I share the most as a writing consultant: you can’t fail until you quit.
When I talk to other women who’ve lost their fathers, complicated grief is a common theme. Fortunately, my dad and I were in touch right up to that surprise ending. He was crazy about my Christmas present, a blanket of photos that included several of us.
So Valentine’s Day will be very different this year. I want everyone I love to know that I love them. I bought assorted packs of cute cards plus stamps with kittens and puppies. I’ll pop them in the mail and voila, people will know I love them no matter how long they have left. If I had all your addresses I’d send little love notes to you, too. I love you just for listening.
Valentine’s Day is what you make of it. So make it exactly right for you. When you choose what you want to eat and what you want to wear and how you want to celebrate, then it’s sure to be a happy one.
Oh, and if you’re in LA and want go give yourself an extra treat, join me and dozens more authors at opening weekend of Zibby’s Bookshop on Montana Avenue. My favorite chocolate store is right next door. Books, boobs, and chocolate. What could be sweeter?