Some Valentine's Day memories are 'What Ifs.' Thoughts of my Uncle Gal are at the top of that list for me. His 'given' name was Valentine, but somewhere along the line (I'm guessing by the third or fourth time he was playing fist-a-cuffs with some classmate after a name-calling exchange) he determined that the name had to be altered and so he fashioned the 'V' into a 'G' and thus he became Gal.
Uncle Gal was my mother's boyfriend during her teenage years. It was understood by the entire family that this union would be sealed in the blissful state of matrimony. My mother, alas, had other plans. Being the headstrong young woman which she was, she wriggled her way out of the relationship and moved onto other beaus. Gal was devastated and sought the comfort and proverbial shoulder of my mother's sister, Aunt Helen. She, herself, had just experienced a tumultuous ending to a long standing relationship and was ripe for the companionship. Timing is everything as they say.
Any primary level detective could deduce the outcome of this scenario and before long that blissful wedding that the family anticipated indeed took place. It was, however, between Gal and Helen, with Dotti (that's my mom) out of the immediate picture. It wasn't much later that emotions had cooled among all parties and the family moved on with Gal embraced as the fourth son in addition to to my mom's three brothers.
Aunt Helen and Uncle Gal never had children. Instead, they lavished attention on select nieces. Ok, so now you may further guess that the two nieces who received the greatest abundance of their attention were me and my sister. It seemed only natural to me during my younger years that Uncle Gal would be so loving to me. After all, I was a very receptive child. But as the years passed and the wisdom that accompanies age allowed me to see the BIG picture, it really saddened me as I wondered if Uncle Gal was especially loving to Dotti's girls for the sentimental reason of wondering 'what ifs' along the way.
So this is my special Valentine's Day memory. More than the day and its symbolism, for me, it always reminds me of my Uncle Valentine aka Gal. He lost the love of Dotti, refound love with Helen and bestowed unconditional love upon Dotti's girls.
What if . . . ?