PUBLISHED: 3:48 PM on Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Love's message endures through life's seasons

I spent yesterday morning with one of my favorite valentines. First, we kissed. Then we held hands.

We even had our picture taken by a passerby. The photo displays show-stopping smiles, reflecting a love that endures through the seasons of life.

We laughed. We sang. We unhurriedly walked arm in arm, my valentine and I.

We savored hot coffee seasoned with sweet conversation, while I held my valentine's hand beneath the table.

All too soon, the morning came to an end.

"Don't go," my valentine gently pleaded. "Stay a little longer."

So I did. Because while I know our love endures through the seasons, I also realize my Valentine is in the winter of life.

This valentine - a love I've known for 46 years - is my mom. She lives with Alzheimer's and the constant struggle of grasping the memory of loved ones' faces. But somehow she still manages to maintain her humor, and always comes when it's needed most; like yesterday, for example.

"You know, Mom, Valentine's Day is coming up."

"Yes. Would you like some chocolate?" she asked, with a big grin.

I eyed her suspiciously.

"You have chocolate?" - I never know what I might find in her room. Besides, she knows chocolate is one of my favorite words.

"No." She giggled.

"Mom. That was not nice," I chided. "Don't ask if I want chocolate if you don't have any!"

We laughed, my valentine and me. And in that moment, I treasured all the Valentine's Days we've celebrated through the seasons of life, with one in particular.

It happened when I walked into my bedroom after another tough day of seventh grade. Atop my bed lay a beautiful, handmade heart-shaped pillow made out of pink satin. Embroidered words in white thread read "Be mine," surrounded by crafted designs of Cupid, kissing lovers, flowers, and birds.

I looked at Mom, who eagerly yet silently waited at my door.

She smiled.

"Mom, it's beautiful."

"Happy Valentine's Day. I love you," she said in her typical unassuming style.

Today, that pillow sits among other decorator pillows atop my bed. It daily reminds me that while we grow older through the seasons of life, and while we may possibly one day forget our loved ones' names, the love we have for them will always remain.

In the summer of my life, that's one Valentine's Day message worth remembering. And that beats chocolate any ol' day.

Judy Halone is a member of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.