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My funny Valentine

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Press columnists, grandfather and granddaughter, pay tribute to their loved ones

By Christie Elkins

Editor’s note: William Lanier Deavours was born on Sept. 20, 1920. He passed away 85 years later on Feb. 12, 2005.
Deavours is a former columnist with the LaFollette Press and his granddaughter, Christie Elkins, is nearing her 100th column with the Press.
The two appear together in this week’s Valentine’s feature as a celebration of family love.
Deavours’ column was originally printed Feb. 8, 1996. Elkins’ column was written last year and dedicated to her grandfather.

By: Christie Elkins
Letters from the Nest
I got the call that it was time to come home.
Once I entered the door, he greeted me with a soft hug and a gentle kiss and said, “Here, open this.”
I opened a box to reveal a white gold heart necklace, heart bracelet and earrings. It was the perfect gift for our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. Through tears, I whispered, “This is beautiful.”
I moved my hair so he could fasten the necklace around my neck. “Are you ready to go?” he asked gently.
Quietly nodding, I replied, “I think so.”
We entered the car and headed up the road. There was a nervous silence that filled the car. I hadn’t seen him yet, not in that condition. Once we arrived, the smell of red roses and other beautiful flower arrangements filled the air. The floral stench, accompanied by colognes that clung to winter wool coats  — mixed with the starch scent of passing cigarette smoke — was a tad overwhelming yet welcoming.
I received a few sympathetic smiles and empty hugs, and false promises of assistance.
Then the service began.
Brandon stepped to the podium to read the stock paragraphs about someone whose life was much more full than a tiny corner newspaper column.
Gran tucked away the Valentine’s Day hearts, one for each family member, in his resting place, as we listened to Celtic music and numbly watched the slideshow of his life. There were yellowed photos of him with his 12 other siblings, photos from their wedding day, then photos from mine.
I held back tears and said a silent thank you to God that at least he was able to make it to see us marry. Brandon was the only one of whom he approved, after all. My first Valentine’s Day with a husband was Gran’s first without one.
It has been eight years since Papa passed away, and every Valentine’s Day that cold February eve fills my mind.
Each year, the children, my sister-in-law and I take Gran on a “date”; something to get her out of the house and occupy her mind for a few hours.
Over the years, we have enjoyed her company over ice cream sundaes, the children’s museum, dinner at a restaurant, and a few years ago, a movie at the theater.
Gran and I chatted all the way to the theater that afternoon, about her 16 siblings, naming babies (and how Papa named them all!) and raising boys. Once we arrived, with the movie only rolling for a few minutes, Eden decided she was scared and no longer wanted to watch.
I watched in awe as my grandmother held her in her arms, encouraged her that the princess was indeed good, and kissed her in comfort. No matter the day or the circumstance, my grandmother is always loving, always caring, always ready to put others before herself.
Papa, I know that she misses you every day. And every time I put that necklace around my neck, or kiss my daughter who shares your middle name, or eat an apple turnover, I miss you too.
But, never fear. Even though Valentine’s Day is a struggle each year, Gran was able to show love even though her heart was breaking.
And I accidentally ran a red light on the way home that day, which consequently she found quite amusing.
You are missed, my funny Valentine.
(Dedicated to the memory of William Lanier Deavours, Sept. 20, 1920 — Feb. 12, 2005.)

By: Lanier Deavours
Listening to Lanier
Soon it will be Feb. 14, and on this special day most people’s hearts turn lightly towards love.
It is a time to say, “I love you,” to those whom we hold dear. Why?
Because it’s Valentine’s Day, a day which has been set aside for those who love and would be loved.
I believe our forefathers could have chosen a day a little closer to spring when the weather was a bit better, but not to worry. I have seen robins in my yard.
When robins come, can spring be far behind?
But back to affairs of the heart … I saw you standing there before me. I saw your eyes, your beautiful eyes … they danced, they entranced me and never let me go.
Finally the elevator closed and you were gone.
Ah, but from that moment on, you have never left my life — not even for an instant. You see, that was the beginning of a lifelong adventure. I fell in love with you and the magic of the moment.
We courted for several months ‘til one night I could no longer remain separated from you.
Then I said, “I think we had better get married.” My, what, a romantic way to propose. You paused for just a minute and said, “Yes, I think so, too.” And we did just that.
It has now been over 43 years since that night, and we have never looked back with regret.
Thinking about all those years, we have had good times but also bad times. There have been days of joy and times of sorrow, but I look on each of them as just a happening along the road of life.
We have become accustomed to each other, to our idiosyncrasies, made allowances for our differences while cherishing how much we are alike.Together we can face all our tomorrows, apart we are naught.
At the close of the day, when we sit in our rocking chairs and pause for a bit of rest,
I look over and see you closing your eyes briefly.
I grin, lean back and close my eyes, too. This is our quiet time when all is peaceful, all is well and we can dream of our yesteryears. We are like a well-worn pair of house slippers — one is no good without the other.
But I spoke of two loves, and indeed I am twice blessed. For there is another woman in my life, and you must share my love with her. That woman is our lovely daughter, whom I still think of as a little bundle of joy in her crib.
Ah, how I remember her perky little nose, her laughing eyes and the magic of her smile.
She reached up, grabbed my hand with her clutching fingers and has never let go. She captured my heart then and forever.
I recall her with a cute little ponytail, her frilly lace dresses and her blue jeans as she moved swiftly through her childhood years.
I remember her first date when she grew up. That night was pure misery ‘til at last she came home safely.
Life moved on, as it must, and one day a young man came into her life. She married and went out into the world to make a home of her own.
Does the story end here?
Well, no, because on Valentine’s Day she is still my love.
I buy her a box of those tangy miniature sweet tarts.
This is her favorite, but I like them, for each heart has, “I love you,” printed thereon.
Happy Valentine’s Day — my two loves!