Me and Melissa, Valentine's Day, 1980 - Bradley, Illinois.

I don’t remember where I first read it, but I certainly agree with whoever said it: True love does not need a special day.

Please understand before we proceed any further that I do not mean to denigrate Valentine’s Day. Quite the contrary. It’s an important holiday tradition to a great many folks – and not such a bad one at that, as holiday traditions go. Any holiday that includes chocolate as one of its most important acoutrements is worth observing, in my humble opinion.

But I’ll be flat-out honest with you, fellas. One day a year is hardly sufficient. I’ve never claimed to be any kind of an expert, but it occurs to me that if you need a special day to recognize the important role that special lady plays in your life, you’re just not paying attention.

Of course, my views on the matter may be somewhat colored by the personal impact made upon me by the women in my life. My wife, my mother, a number of close female friends – each and every one have demonstrated strengths that remain a source of absolute amazement.


And by strength I do not refer simply to those biological attributes which enabled them to carry children. We learned about this in sixth grade health class. Simple observation of everyday life taught me about a greater strength still.

A strength that has enabled them to carry hardships and burdens – even while they share happiness, love and joy. 

A strength that helps them to smile when what they really want to do is scream. Or sing when they want to cry. 

The women in our lives have many special qualities about them. When was the last time you took notice?

Did you notice the way she volunteers for the good causes, bringing food to shut-ins or serving on the hospital auxiliary or checking on a lonely neighbor? 

Or the way she may go without a new pair of shoes so her children won’t have to?

Have you kept those little love notes she occasionally sticks in your lunch box before you go to work?  

Do you sit with her as she waits by the phone for that “back home safe” call from a friend or relative who drove home in the pouring rain? 

Can you appreciate how badly she wants the best for those she loves? The way that she cries when her children reach certain milestones, or cheer when her friends accomplish something special, or stand up for injustice?

Do you recognize that – as smart as she is, as much as she understands that knowledge is power – they quite often make their strongest points by showing their softest side?

Sure, a woman’s loving touch can make a romantic evening unforgettable. But it can also cure a great many everyday ailments. She knows that a hug and a kiss can mend a skinned elbow one day and heal a broken heart the next.

The true beauty of a woman has nothing to do with the clothes she wears or the way she combs her hair. It has nothing to do with her figure or facial features. 

These may be what we first notice, what first draws our attention. But if we’re really paying attention we notice something far greater, far more powerful.

If you wish to know the true beauty in a woman, look to her heart – the place where love resides. 

See the way it is reflected in her soul, in the caring she gives, in the passion she shows, in the strength she shows when she fears there is no more strength to share.

Leo Tolstoy wrote: “Yes, women, mothers, in your hands more than in those of anyone else lies the salvation of the world.”

In looking back over my own life, it is difficult to imagine what it would have been like without the lessons I learned from some very special ladies. I believe their presence in and influence upon my life has been no accident; they have helped to mold me into who I am, and who I may yet become.

My mother taught me what love is; she loved me even when it seemed the rest of the world had given up on me. My wife - the sweetest, most gentle soul I have ever known – took the risk of making room for me in her heart, and has not evicted me despite some trying circumstances that have cropped up over the years.

Alongside such year-round valentines as this, how could all the pretty paper love notes and bouquets of roses and boxes of chocolates in the world one day a year even even begin to measure up?

(Copyright © 2013, by John A. Small)