“The Heart’s Memory Lives On” Guest Post

The Heart’s Memory Lives On
by Lori Pelikan Strobel

On my kitchen counter there sits a small basket. In the basket, there is a small, folded-up piece of notebook paper. I have kept this note for 36 years. It is yellowed and slightly torn at the corners, but I haven’t been able to throw it out. It has a very special Valentine’s Day message to me.

I remember the grade school days of giving Valentine’s Day cards to all of my classmates. My mother would drive me to the store and I would painstakingly pick out the perfect box of Valentine’s Day cards for my friends. After handing them out in class, I can clearly see myself breathlessly waiting to open the cards from my friends, especially the boys. Somehow my girlfriends and I could always figure out which boy liked us.

Maybe he would write “Love” on it, draw a heart, or even give a special piece of candy with it. We were sure there was a secret “love” message on these cards. I always hoped it would be the boy to whom I had sent a very cryptic special Valentine to. Most of the time it wasn’t.

When I was sixteen, I was finally able to celebrate Valentine’s Day properly—or so I thought—since I officially had a boyfriend. I picked out a special card and his favorite candy. I knew I would finally get a Valentine back that really meant something to me. However, it is not this card that I kept. I haven’t even kept any of the Valentine cards that my husband has given to me. I don’t know why, but after all these years, I have kept a Valentine’s Day note from my mother.

The small basket on my kitchen counter is nestled into the corner. The counter holds the mail, the to-do list, file folders, car keys, and a tin can pencil holder made by one of my daughters at the age of six. The basket is filled with strange odds and ends, which are cleaned out twice a year. As I clean it out this year, I find a small can of mace, gum, Band-Aids, business cards, a small light bulb, a watch with an unknown owner, old photos, and this very special Valentine’s note. The note is the one constant thing in the basket each year.

As I look at it folded, I remember the day I woke up to find the note at the breakfast table. We were on a family vacation and it was my mom who remembered to give us Valentines. Today, as I take it out of the basket, I smile when I see my mother’s handwriting and her hand drawn hearts on it. I know what it says, but I open it anyway and read:

“Happy Valentine’s Day to my daughter, Lori. On your 16th Valentine’s Day may you have love, health, and happiness. When Valentine’s Days come and go, always remember your 16th with your family in Jamaica. We are fortunate to share this experience with each other. I love you. Love you, Mommy”

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My mother recently had open-heart surgery. It was triple-bypass. She was lucky. We were lucky. Her left main artery was about 90% blocked, which meant she could have had a massive heart attack and died. She is doing well now and I can’t help feel very grateful. I’m grateful for her health and her gracious, loving, “open-heart.”

I mentioned the note to her a few weeks ago and she laughed, saying, “Isn’t it funny what we keep? That was a great vacation. Remember when your brother ….”

I guess I have kept that note for so long because it brings back a flood of fun family memories. It also reminds me that Valentine’s Day isn’t just for when you have a boyfriend or are in a relationship.

To me, this Valentine’s Day memory reminds me that it’s all about caring and loving the people who are around you. Also, it shows you that it sometimes isn’t materialistic items that have any value – it’s the items that evoke a thought or time together that stay in our heart memory.

This note has made me more determined than ever to keep creating memories for my children, no matter how old they are. I wonder what my kids will keep in a small basket on their kitchen counter, someday. Hopefully, it’s a memory of our family, because only the heart knows what memories to keep close by.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

You can find more musings by Lori at www.loripelikanstrobel.com


This was first posted on motheringinthemiddle. Please visit www.motheringinthemiddle.com to read more.

Please share some of your Valentine memories. I would love to hear about them.



  • LuAnne Porcello

    Lori- your article brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing! Happy Valentine’s Day!

    February 6, 2015 at 8:40 pm
  • Thanks for sharing. Instead of keeping just one, though, I am schmaltzy and keep most. My favorite is not a Valentine, but a secret admirer note attached to a dozen roses given to me by my father when I turned 16.

    February 8, 2015 at 8:37 am

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