Folks, tomorrow I and my twin brother, Roy will be celebrating our 67th birthday which also falls on Valentine’s Day. Enjoy reading my article.
Raymond Anthony Fernando
Spread Love, Not Just on Valentine’s Day
With Valentine's Day approaching, florists and restaurants will be having a roaring business as men shower their girlfriends or wives with bouquets of roses and fine dining in celebration of one of the most romantic events of the year.
Every February 14, here in Singapore and other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But just who is this mysterious saint named St. Valentine? Where and where did these traditions come from?
HISTORY OF ST. VALENTINE
The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
One story suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly– a romantic figure.
CELEBRATION WITH FAMILY
My twin brother and I are blessed to be born on Valentine’s Day and before we were married, our parents made it a must to buy a big birthday cake and my mother will prepare some lovely mouth-watering dishes to celebrate the occasion. Our favourites – her delicious Eurasian chicken curry, prawn sambal and nasi kuning (Yellow rice).
After we got married, each of us had our individual simple celebrations with our partners.
Love is the most wonderful virtue that anyone can ever experience. Most certainly, love is food for the soul. I used to tease my wife, Doris that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and she gamely obliged. So, throughout the 40 years that we married, Doris would make it a must to cook my favourite meal – curry crab and we spent a quiet but joyful celebration together.
But love can be so painful when you lose the one you loved so dearly – as in my case. Having given the best care and love to Doris who battled schizophrenia for 44 years which was often overwhelming for me as her sole caregiver for 4 decades, I have absolutely no regrets taking her as my life-long partner wife for one simple reason: She taught me about the power of unconditional love. In Doris, I found the courage to love fully and completely.
SIMPLE ACTS OF LOVE
Valentine’s Day has become very commercialised these days, but you don’t need to splurge on flowers, gifts and fine dining to show your appreciation to your partner. You just need to perform acts of kindness and do simple things everyday such as making a cup of hot milo for your partner just before she goes off to bed. You can help with the household chores, and if married with kids, share with child upbringing. A hug and a kiss at the start of the day, coupled with phone calls to keep in touch with one another cements the power of unconditional love.
For me, I don’t need to have 101 friends to be happy after the passing of my wife. All I need is my siblings to keep in touch with me and just a couple of friends to chit chat and have a meal occasionally so that I do not feel all alone.
FRIENDS WHO CARE ENOUGH
To this end, I am heartened that I have some kind-hearted Christians who share a meal with me occasionally, one of whom is my former classmate in St Andrew’s School in Christopher Nair or Sagar Nair as I have known him for more than 40 years. I am looking forward to his Valentine’s Day dinner which he will host me. It is a good time to catch up given that he is one busy man with work and as a caregiver to his lovely wife, Joni.
I am also blessed to have kind Catholic friends in Jeremiah Tan and Michael Png and his caring wife, Josephine. Last Christmas, Michael, Josephine and two friends from the Christ of Risen Choir brought along a guitar, pastries and drinks and we had a great time singing the Christmas carols in my home. This is how the virtue of love reigns high.
In my friend, Jeremiah Tan, I can always count on him to send me to the airport whenever I make a trip overseas, need him as a ‘handy’ man to replace the blown lights in my home, troubleshoot my computer or handphone problems or fetch me to far off places when I am unsure of how to get there.
So, let there be simple gestures of support, love and care for another human being to allow the Valentine spirit to flourish all year round.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO