So how did this holiday come into being? “St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote ‘from your Valentine’ as a farewell to her.”
Ah, how romantic! Now, whether this legend is true, or merely someone’s fanciful ideas that have been passed down over time, we’ll probably never know.
Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart because it was February 14th in 1976 when I took Isaura out for dinner to Grandma’s Attic in San Jose. I had been to the restaurant earlier in the day to drop off the engagement ring and some other gifts I would give to her over dinner later that evening.
Isaura and I had first met on the campus of San Jose State University ten months earlier, in April of 1975. One evening in July I was visiting her at her aunt and uncle’s home in Santa Clara. She lived with them while attending school. She was standing there ironing some clothing while I was seated on the floor. This was dangerous for me because at that time I kept a ridiculous schedule. I was carrying a full load of credits (18) at school; I was on the university radio station (KSJS) doing a live broadcast twelve hours a week as a DJ; I managed the apartment complex where I lived; I was working for the Alpha Beta store in Los Gatos on the early morning stock crew; I was in the active Marine Corps Reserve as a Staff Sergeant with VMA 133 at NAS Alameda; and I helped with the youth group at church on Wednesday nights, and taught the Junior High Sunday school class.
So you can appreciate my peril. Sitting and relaxing sent a message to my brain that this might be a good time to rest a bit. But on this particular evening I was on a mission! I looked up at Isaura in all of her loveliness and said, “How’d you like to spend the rest of your life with me?” She smiled and readily agreed. We had already had several conversations about marriage, so this was more a formality than anything else. Now remember – I was still seated on the floor. I must have leaned my head back on a chair right after because ten minutes after springing the question, I was comfortably asleep. Not my best moment!
I began plotting how long it would take me to get her an engagement ring. On my limited income and paying for my schooling, I had little left at the end of any given month. As I calculated my saving plan, I figured I would be able to buy the ring I wanted in cash by January of 1976. We had begun pre-marriage counseling with our pastor in early December, with a wedding date set for June 5, 1976.
Knowing that Isaura loves to sew, I found a great deal on a new sewing machine which I bought on credit. I was excited to give it to her for Christmas. I, however, had made a serious miscalculation. She was expecting the engagement ring for Christmas – not a sewing machine. Déjà vu: not my best moment again.
So in January, with cash in hand, I arrived at the jewelry store and made my long-awaited purchase of the coveted ring.
Not wanting to mess up a third time I was going to make this Valentine’s Day evening special. As we sat across from one another, on cue the waitress would bring in one of the several gifts throughout the dinner with the climax being the engagement ring. The whole evening went off without a hitch!
So here we are thirty-seven years later and I’m remembering our first Valentine’s Day together as if it had just taken place.
I have been blessed by the Lord to share this excursion of life with Isaura in all of its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and the many uncertainties and challenges we have faced. It has been a wonderful journey together!