Gendusa: Mama and her chocolate box of Valentines

Published 7:49 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2017



By the time, you read this, Valentine’s Day will have come and gone. We will have written our names under the word Love, and moved to the next day. The cards will be tossed or possibly saved if one is extremely special. Some tender hearts will keep them all and reflect to a day when someone cared enough to send Hallmark.

My mother left me a Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box from the 1950’s. The chocolate is long gone but what remains is a treasure trove of memories.

She had saved her Valentine cards from her childhood. There must be more than 150 in the yellow box that were signed in the early 1920’s. Some are decorated intricately with lace and ribbon and others depict cute, cherub faced children riding horses or holding bunches of roses or a candy box.

They are signed by friends and family: Madge, Virginia, Lester, Helen, Mary Ruth, Junior, and, of course, James Robbins.

I think my mother and James Robbins wound up having a special relationship at one time, but then Mama fell for Daddy and James became romantic history.

We buried Mama in Monterey, Tenn., on July 1, 2010.  Ironically, or as it should be, it was my Dad’s birthday. We all knew Daddy got a mighty fine present that day in heaven.

I was standing near the front porch of my cousin’s funeral home where we were to have the service. The bright sunshine mixed with cool mountain air refreshed my soul. The perfect day for Mama to be laid to rest beside Daddy in the little town where she was born.

A man approached me, took my hand tenderly, and said, “Lynn, I am James Robbins, an old friend of your mother. She was a very special lady.”

I covered my other hand over his and said, “I know who you are, Mr. Robbins, and she thought you were special too.”

I think Mama would have been proud of me for that.

James died two years later at the age of 92. His little cards are in the chocolate box that he gave to her when he was 6.

I am in awe of those that marry and stay together until they depart this earth. They are held together like the old glue that was used on those old cards. They forge memories and their lives become intertwined into one. They have braved the harsher elements of marriage and of love.  They made it work.

I was fortunate to be raised by parents that did truly love one another. Did they hurt each other at times? Sure. Don’t we all? But, did the love survive? Until the day they died.

Love is the most complex element of our lives. Hate is easier than love. Love can break you or make you or just leave you numb.

I have known so many that love has broken. They fell in love and lost. The resentment and heartache left them unable to love again out of the shear fear of losing. For them, love became a problem instead of a joy.

I can understand that. A broken heart has no medicine for the pain. It is slow to heal and when it does, it leaves scars that can act up at times. Broken hearts can cause a broken soul and can make you sicker than you ever thought you could be.

The best cure for a broken heart is the very thing that broke it: Love.

The ability to love is the greatest gift we have in life. The only way to not hate is to love. The only way to forgive is through love, and the only way to live completely is to love fully.

There are many people that are content to live without a mate. However, they still love. They love God, their family and friends, and they love life. If they ever did have a broken heart they have turned the corner and loved what is in their lives fully.

I know one thing for sure, when I look back, I met some mighty fine people while giving my heart away to them. I wouldn’t take anything for that.

My first husband met a wonderful woman who makes him happy and that makes me happy. We were young when we married and we were still young when we waved goodbye.

When our son was injured 33 years later, all of us stood around his bed, held hands and prayed. My ex-husband’s wife, my husband, and our other children came together in unity under the umbrella of love.

I have stayed friends with some who broke my heart simply because they were worth it. I think that might be love in its finest form.

I am grateful for the scars in my heart. God healed my scars but humbled me enough to write about them. I feel compassion and have learned that any love is to never be taken for granted. Broken hearts do heal and love can continue in a thousand ways.

We carry lost love with us always. It is important to not continue to cry, but to smile while remembering the best parts of it.

Just as James Robbins did 86 years after sending a very special lady that first Valentine.