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From the Desk of Dora DePaoli: Of candy hearts and paper Valentines

February 22, 2002

I was a little disappointed on Valentine's Day. I only received one card. My kids and grandkids didn't even remember. Usually I get some cards from my kids, but with my early February birthday they probably thought they had already done their part.

About 8 that night someone was at the door. It turned out to be Mercy, the wife of Tony, our newspaper delivery man. Turns out she had a gift for me. She said Tony found it in our newspaper holder when he dropped off the paper several hours earlier. Tony thought I had left something for him. When he got home he saw my name on it. I was totally excited to be remembered. I now had my very own box of candy hearts with sweet messages like: "URA 10," "GO GIRL," "YOU RULE," "2002 HUGS," and "DREAM GIRL." The sender of the box was Cupid.

I loved Valentine's Day when I was in grade school. A few days before the holiday our teachers would wrap a big box with red paper, glue white doilies and red hearts all over it and we would drop our cards into it. The anticipation grew each day. On the big day we would eagerly wait in our seats as the teacher distributed our bounty. If we got more than one card from a classmate we knew they really liked us. Or if it was someone we liked we would attach a lot of meaning to that Valentine message.

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Long ago my husband gave me a gold bracelet with my initials engraved on a heart-shaped charm. When he was a student at UCLA he sent me my first telegram. I still have both.

While in San Diego the day after Valentine's Day, three young men sang to their lady loves as the girls walked through Fashion Valley shopping center. The enthusiastic Romeos thoroughly embarrassed their Juliets.

At a doctor's office later that day an older woman who was getting around with a cane told me she had been serenaded by a barbershop quartet. This was special to her because she sang with the Sweet Adelines, a close harmony group, in her youth. One nurse in the office received silver hoop earrings from her spouse and another one was given diamond earrings by her significant other over a gourmet, take-out lunch.

Stuffed animals and earrings are always popular gifts. Sam, a devoted husband and father from Holtville, took his daughters out to buy his wife a gift. He ended up buying earrings for all three of them.

My nephew Ryan, a fairly recent bridegroom, placed several bouquets of flowers in each room for his wife, Nicole.

My niece Becky received topaz earrings and a pendant. She gave her daughters 8-inch tall, battery-operated hearts. During a power outage in Los Angeles, her daughter Tasha found it to be real handy. When the lights went out where she works she ran out to her car to get her Valentine gift. The flashing red heart provided light in the employees' restroom until the power was restored.

I have often wondered when I would start to feel old. I look forward to each day and get excited whenever a holiday rolls around. When I visit rest homes and see the folks in wheelchairs I wonder if they still feel young. A book I saw recently probably sums it up: "The Girls with Grandmother Faces," by Frances Weaver. At our recent 50th high school reunion I felt the same way when a couple of "the girls" put the floral wreath centerpieces on their heads. The years just slipped away.

When I got back from San Diego I found my second Valentine. It was from my daughter Gina's class. Thanks kids! Pine School Second Grade Rules !!!

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