Published on February 4, 2020

Valentine’s Day all around us

By Janice Edwards / The Bulletin

“Love and Magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart, and they both take practice.” - Nora Roberts

We celebrate a day of love and affection, Valentine’s Day, on Feb. 14 every year. We give and get gifts of cards, box-shaped hearts filled with chocolates, champagne, lavish candlelight dinners and jewelry. Sometimes I think that this celebration of love is getting just too commercial. But when I do, all I have to do to change my mind is look around me.

I live in the country, and I view wildlife every day. So, if I look, I see that they are getting in on the celebration as well. Birds are the most noticeable. For instance, Purple Martin houses should be placed out each year by Valentine’s Day for the heralds of the song of spring to roost. Pelicans and Roseate Spoonbills take on breeding plumage.

I get my camera out this time of year as the spring migration starts, and I try to capture the rapture.

One year, I photographed a male and female brown pelican sitting on a log, forming a heart. I call that picture “Lovebirds.” It’s not the most beautiful picture in the world, but it brings to mind what “Love” looks like, much like the gold unicorn charm on the necklace I always wear. Roy bought it for me when we first started dating, and it is a constant reminder that I am loved.

This is the story of the gold unicorn.

When you discover that your relationship has gone past spending time together briefly to share a meal, or catch a popular new movie, dating takes on a heightened characteristic. What matters most to one becomes the other’s concern.

Roy and I had just reached that tenuous state in our relationship, when introductions to his grown daughter, Shirlene, from a previous marriage, were in order. I knew she was the apple of his eye, so as we reached the sidewalk leading to her door, I stopped dead. If she liked me, then I was “in” with her dad, but if she didn’t … Well, I didn’t even want to think about that.
Luckily, Roy saw my hesitation and said, “Don’t worry, she’s going to love you.” When Shirlene opened the door, it was like we had known each other all our lives. There was an instant bond between the two of us.

Not long after meeting Shirlene, Roy called me. He was concerned for his daughter. She had called to tell him she had been laid off. That news alone would have been bad enough, but she was recovering from her own divorce and had just signed a new apartment lease. Her future looked bleak.

Roy was working as a warehouse manager and could not leave until all the trucks were loaded out for delivery the next day. But I lived close to Shirlene. He asked me if she could come to my place and if I could keep her occupied until he could get there.

Though our relationship was still new, and I had no idea how I could console Shirlene, I called her and asked her to come over. I got out some snacks and opened a bottle of wine. Then we proceeded to talk – about everything. I think we solved all the problems of the world that night, and I had turned her tears into laughter before her dad arrived. When he did, he gave his daughter the fatherly assurances only he could give, and it wasn’t long before the world was no longer coming to an end.
When they left, Roy thanked me for giving his daughter a new outlook on life. I was glad I could help, but all she really needed was someone to listen that night.

I really didn’t understand how this situation had affected Roy, though, until our next date. Roy came by to take me to dinner, but before we left the apartment, he reached in his pocket, pulled out a small white jewelry box and gave it to me.

When I opened the box, there lay a prancing solid gold unicorn on a chain. I was speechless. He gently lifted my chin so that I was looking at him square in the eyes when he said, “I’ll never forget you helping my daughter like that. I got you this unicorn because I hope our relationship will always be magic.”

After a year of dating followed by 33 years of marriage, and multiple broken necklace chains, Roy and I are still together, and I still wear that unicorn. It might not be as bright as it was when he gave it to me, but, like family, it still invokes the magic of love.

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)

Jan's love birds