|Bought these today. A cup of tea and a chocolate sounds heavenly.|
Year after year as I grew up it appeared on Valentine’s Day like clockwork – the small Whitman’s heart shaped box, with six prized chocolates nestled inside. My passion for (and daily fix of) chocolate in some form on a daily basis most likely finds its roots in the significance of that box for me. The front was usually adorned with a Peanuts caricature with a valentine’s message about love or hugs or the coveted “Be Mine?” Who could resist such a loving ritual from a dad?
My dad was a softie. I mean the big teddy bear heart kind of guy who loved his family more than himself. I didn’t doubt my dad loved me, but didn’t give it any conscious thought through my younger daughter years – I really grew into the knowledge more as an adult, but the signs were there, just waiting for me to see them. Valentine’s Day was my first clue.
My dad was a quiet man. He believed his actions spoke louder than words (written or spoken) and so “I love you” didn’t cross his lips a lot in those early childhood years. Maybe it was the generation, maybe growing up as an only child with a gruff father, maybe it was our family dynamics. Whatever the reason, he felt the proof of his love was in the showing, not the telling.
|Dad and I - long before Whitman's.|
He worked hard to support his wife and five children. He was involved in his community and volunteered his whole life to help others. I don’t remember him ever reading me a story, or sitting down to play a game. But I remember him at the father/daughter dinners for Girl Scouts, at the head of the dining room table at nightly family meals and when he walked me down the aisle to marry a man who would also love me for the rest of my life. Dad was the only one I thought to call when I had what can only be deemed as an emotional breakdown in my freshman year of high school. He picked a hysterical me up at the flag pole in front of the school, took me home, hugged me but didn’t question me, tucked me in on the couch after giving me an orange juice (heavily laden with Vodka) and sat with me as I slept until my mom got home from work later that day to handle whatever it was that had pushed me to my breaking point.
Oh, how I wish I still had one of those valentine boxes. I kept many of them for years, keepers of mementos, trinkets and whatever else a young girl squirrels away. I’m sure at some point during an emotional “rite of passage” time when I was shedding my childhood and embracing my adulthood (hear the violins? I was probably around the oh so grown up age of 14 or so) I threw out my boxes. And sometime around then they stopped coming. Maybe he felt they wouldn’t be appreciated anymore – maybe I inadvertently gave off some sign that I was beyond that type of expression from him.
|My Dad. William P. Wood.|
In his later years, he became much more demonstrative. He told me he loved me each time I saw him. His arms would wrap around me, pull me close and hug me with a love I felt deep into my bones. It was like receiving a Whitman’s heart shaped box every time. A few years before he passed, I got the courage to ask him if it was him or my mom who had bought the boxes for us girls year after year. His answer was clear. “Of course it was me honey, your mother didn’t know what I wanted to say to you”.
Thanks dad. I love you too.