For the Out of Love

February 15, 2011

Even at my most smitten, I was not a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  Its commercialized greeting cards, over-priced flowers and overcrowded restaurants were of no interest to me.  The only time I’ve eaten in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day was Burger King.  Thank you, it was delicious.

Because I spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, I’ve seen lots of laments over this day from the recently dumped, the recently divorced and the just plain lonely.  And frankly, I’m GLAD these people share their misery rather than suffer in silence.  So this post is for those people.

My followers, all five of you, meet my Dad.

Photo by Richard Taylor

This photo was taken of my father in the late 1950s during, or just after, his divorce.  His closest friend had taken him on a trip to San Francisco, I imagine for some recuperation and change of scenery.  All I know about that time was that I have a great brother from that marriage and that the divorce was painful for everyone involved.  It was long before my time.  My Dad fought in World War II and battled polio.  He always said divorce was the hardest thing he’d ever experienced.

The Dad I knew absorbed life, enjoyed it to the fullest.  He learned and observed and was insatiably curious.  He ate and drank well.  He loved to work hard, and loved to travel and relax just as much.  He read and wrote and pondered the world around him all the time.  But this man to the right looks defeated to me.  I don’t ever remember my Dad looking defeated.

So for those of you out there with broken hearts, broken souls or who are just plain weary and find no relief on Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share a smidgen of his story.  This man lived almost another 50 years after this photo was taken, and he lived them well.  I hope the same for all of you.

And for my Mama, who misses him dearly, my thoughts are with you and I love you.

Many years later, on the way back to our seats from communion at the church my parents attended, my Dad plopped down on a pew and gregariously wedged his skinny ass next to a woman I didn’t recognize.  He threw his arms around her in the most demonstrative display of affection I ever saw him give.  He was always friendly, but rarely boisterous.

It was so out of character I asked him about it on the ride home.  He told me her name, which I recognized as a longtime friend and part of a couple that had recently divorced after many years of marriage.  He said to me that he hadn’t seen her in a long time and that it must be hard to return to the church she’d attended with her former husband for so many years.  I believe his exact words were, “She needs to know how happy we are to see her and that this is still her home.”  He knew the pain and stigma of divorce and never lost his compassion for others in that situation.

We should all follow his example.

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7 Responses to “For the Out of Love”

  1. laura said

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad. Thanks for sharing his story.

  2. Lauren Damman said

    This is beautiful. Thank you, Sally.

  3. Jon Odell said

    I love this piece. It illuminates simultaneously your father, you, the writer as well a me the reader. It’s such a wonderful gift. Thanks, Sally.

  4. brennagee said

    Your dad sounds incredible! You depicted him so vividly. Very thoughtful Sally. Compassion is the best thing to come out of suffering.:)

  5. Betty said

    Love how he loves.

  6. Sally, this is wonderful. Part of loving life is having compassion. Thanks for sharing this again.

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