It is a brisk winter day. The snow on the ground is crusted, the sun is high in the sky, it makes the snow sparkle like glitter. I walk up the salted path to Aunt Lilly's rickety porch. As I open the door, the Valentine wreath made of red and silver bells gives a jingle; the aroma of fresh baked goodies swirl around me.
“Aunt Lily” I call out, “I’m here” My Aunt Lilly is 84, widowed and lives alone.
A woman comes down the hallway and stops at the doorway of the living room. It is Marta, her home care provider.
“Your aunt is not in good spirits today,” she says in a whisper. Before I have a chance to ask why Aunt lily come assertively shoving her walker down the hall running into the back of Martas feet. She gives an unapologetic “sorry!” and heads to her plush recliner chair where she spends most of her days. Marta helps her get comfy, she spreads valentine theme lap blanket over Lilly's legs, Lilly lets out a big sigh. I can see by the grimace on her face something is paining her. My heart knows that the pain is not from an aching body, but from an aching heart. Marta disappears into the kitchen.
“Auntie, I brought you a Valentine” I announce as I give her a classic red heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates and a card. Her face puckers and she snaps out “ I wish you people would stop shoving Valentines Day down my throat! I already have to swallow 12 pills a day with lukewarm water in a cup that I can barely hold, not to mention the chalky meal supplement shakes and food mush that you people call a soft diet!.
She snaps her head away and looks out the window. I lean over, kiss her on the cheek and set her valentines on the side table. She motions her hand for me to go sit down. After a silence, Marta re-enters the living room, walking over to Aunt Lily, she picks up the valentine card from the side table, opens the seal and hands it to my sad spirited aunt. I am just thinking to myself she should step away before she gets yelled at too. But she doesn’t. As a matter of fact, she fumbles around with the envelope pulling the white lace doily paper out. She takes a moment, then reads it allowed. “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I love you Aunt Lilly and uncle in Heaven too.” Her frail hand motions for me to come to her, a teardrop escapes her eye, runs down her cheek onto the doily paper. She hugs me tightly. Marta reaches over and hands my Aunt a tissue. She dabs her teary eyes. Aunt Lilly softly asks me to go make some tea. Upon my return with the tea, Aunt Lily was declaring that it has been four years since Uncle Walter passed away; four Valentines days that have come and gone without him. I am in awe, she never ever talks about Uncle Walter, let alone on Valentines Day! It’s too painful for her, but I watch her and I listen to her. She is sharing memories of Valentine's past. I set the tea tray down and filled three cups with the chamomile tea. Marta helps Aunt Lilly hold it up to her lips, she takes a couple gingerly sips, when she's done, she motions for Marta to put it on the side table. I am afraid to speak, I don't want her to stop reminiscing all of the beautiful memories. So many stories, some I know like a book, some stories I have never heard before. For hours we listen to Aunt Lily’s stories. I am grateful for Aunt Lily’s home care worker being here today, she was able to soften Aunt Lily’s heart from the sad isolation of loss on Valentine’s Day to a feeling of gratitude for the loving memories that she was able to share with us, hence making new memories of Valentine’s Day with Marta and me.