For the last several years on Valentine’s Day I buy flowers, candy and when I can afford it jewelry and I make a lovely dinner, accompanied by wine and to top the evening off Champagne … or due to financial restraints, Sparkling Wine. Guess whom these gifts and this dinner is for? It is for someone I have known all of my life, who cares for me and someone who has done their damnedest to help me in every way to keep me alive and strong and well, to keep me, keeping on. There are things I would like to change about this person, but all in all I feel down deep caring and affection and well I can’t help it … love. If I don’t love this person … who will?
Okay, I will admit it … it’s me. On Valentine’s Day I have been known to buy myself flowers (on sale) and sometimes the candy, is only a candy bar and well, yes, I try to buy myself a little trinket every once-in-a-while, too. I am a single woman, (at least I consider myself single) I do have a “was-band”; we have been separated … let’s say, since he decided to have a girlfriend or two or three or four. We are still friends and yes, he is the father of my two sons. I consider myself single, as our sexual connection ended about 17 years ago. I guess we will get divorced someday; if one of us decides to get married and if one of us wants to go through the legal mumbo-jumbo and if one of us wants to hire a lawyer and pay for a lawyer.
I have had to be strong, maybe, too strong. Working, taking care of my kids, our pets, two cats and a dog, the house or apartments that I have managed to find on my own. It was and has been my responsibility to keep our heads above water, by working, borrowing, and everything short of stealing, to keep going. When all you do is work and worry, as years go by, you forget that you are a woman… a female. Well, after I was separated from my “was-band” I got a job. As I worked, shopped, went to school meetings, all the while trying to act like it was all easy and normal. It wasn’t. I planned children’s birthday parties, found Halloween costumes, did homework, walked the dog, changed the cat litter, washed clothes, made dinner, did the shopping and worried always, worried, about how to pay the bills, buy new shoes and clothes and school supplies. My biggest worry was how to pay the rent. I forgot that I was a woman until occasionally, at work, some men would smile or flirt. What a shock. One of my boss’s would call to ask me a question and ask, “Is this the beautiful blond at the front desk?” I actually didn’t know he was talking to me the first time I heard that question. The flirting went on. I was dumbfounded. Holy Cow, I actually forgot that I was a woman. One man, who was very persistently trying very hard to let’s say turn our business relationship into something else, said to me in a very serious manner, “Sue Ellen don’t you know that in a few years men won’t keep looking at you?” Now this could have been an insulting remark however, I was thrilled. I honestly didn’t know anyone was looking at me at all.
Now I am not a saint and I did enjoy the attention. The best part of working was that I got to see myself as other people saw me. Not as just a sad, hard-working, worried mother and pet owner and long-suffering ex-wife, but as a woman, a real woman. This surprised me. I worked at the front desk of a very exclusive rental building. My job included really doing a thousand things a day while making high paying guests and multi-millionaires and billionaires happy. It was quite a job. One day a man checked into one of our apartments. He had a deep gravelly voice. He was with a group of men that if I had to make a guess I would have bet that they were younger relatives of the Cosa Nostra. They were all from New Jersey and I later found out that one of the men was the head of a construction company. I welcomed them and tried to help them with any problems or issues that they had in connection to their vacation rental apartments. My front desk was a part of the lobby where I would make the fresh coffee and tea. There were comfortable chairs and couches and a lovely warm fireplace. All day long I would greet guests and owners in person as well as on the phone. The construction boss spent a good part of everyday in my lobby and on the phone. I learned that he didn’t have a good phone connection in his unit which is often the case, in Aspen. Our office and the apartment building is located on the side of a mountain, Aspen is surrounded by mountains. I spent my days helping guests and owners fixing problems, calming, soothing, smiling and cajoling and flattering when necessary. No request was too big or too small to keep everyone happy.
My youngest son would take the bus to my office when school was over. He would often drop off his books and ask for money to go to get a snack and then do his homework in the back office. At the end of work I would drive us both home to our rental unit about an hour away. On one particular day the construction boss was in the lobby … my son came in and dropped his books off and asked for some money for his after school treat … when my son returned, the construction boss walked up to my son and said, “ Is this your mother?” talking about me, my son answered, “Yes.” The boss looked at my son and said,” Do you have any idea how wonderful she is? “Do you have any idea how hard she works to take care of you? Do you have any idea how lucky you are to have her as your mother?” I think my son just murmured, a solemn, embarrassed, “Yes” The man said, “I hope you do!”
I believe I stood there in shock. After a moment or two this man stood in front of my desk and told me how wonderful I was and why he thought so. I think that I held back some tears. Here was a stranger, who somehow just by listening to me, off and on, for a few days, he actually understood a bit of what my life was like. This stranger, GOT ME and he GOT MY LIFE. It touched me deeply. My life was a life of sacrifices.
After this happened, I had an epiphany. There are times in life when you have to make real sacrifices for others. It is necessary and we do it, however, we have to stop and smell the roses or buy ourselves some roses. I made a conscious decision to give myself some credit for all I did and do for everyone else.
Therefore now, I buy myself a gift or three on Valentine’s Day. I buy myself lemon cake on my birthday and whenever I have a few extra dollars I get a manicure and a pedicure. The other night I sat in my living room, on my comfortable beige leather chair, looking out of my window that overlooks Denver high up on the sixteen floor. I drank two big glasses of white wine and I bought myself a rental movie on Xfinity. It is only the second time I have ever rented a film on my television since I have had to become necessarily careful with a dollar. I did feel a bit guilty, however, I really liked the movie.
Okay I’m over sixty and maybe it is selfish but I am a hopeless romantic. My kids are 30 and 22 today. I have a secret wish that is very likely impossible after sixty. I think it is about time that I become someone’s “She”. Do you know the song? It is a lovely song written by the late, great, Charles Aznavour and the very brilliant and alive and well, ( as of this date he is 93), Herbert Kretzmer. If you don’t know this song do yourself a favor and listen to it on YouTube. First, listen to Charles Aznavour’s rendition and then listen to Elvis Costello. They are both fabulous. Is it too late to be someone’s,“She”? I don’t know? It could be too late but I think it still happens occasionally to some lucky woman. The last sentence goes like this, “The meaning of my life is, SHE.” So that is what I would like someday for Valentine’s Day. If it is too late, well I can still appreciate myself and I will continue to buy myself some flowers (on sale) and a bite of candy and sometimes a small piece of jewelry… it doesn’t have to be diamonds.
Until Next Week…