This past Valentine’s Day had me thinking about love, as it should. Love of family, friends and things I hold dear. In Canada, we also celebrated Family Day the same weekend. It’s a happy coincidence.

Most of us find it easy to spend heart day with family or others who we love. It got me thinking about those I love who are gone, like my Mom, Grandma and my oldest, dearest pal Maggie. It also got me wondering about a cherished family member, the “Black Sheep” who in her selfishness, walks a road of self-destruction via drug and alcohol abuse.

After many years of late night phone calls for help, a bail out, collections and copious amounts of money loaned and wasted, I decided to accept what I had always known. You can extend a hand of help but you cannot make someone take it. Help is but a step from others and real change comes from internal strength and determination within.


This revelation helped me to unburden myself from taking the responsibility for the life of another. It is hard, damn hard to watch someone you love struggle with their demons. It’s harder still when no matter what you do, no matter what love, assistance, guidance and lies you overlook, the charade continues. It is hard to bear witness and stand back. It is difficult to watch someone you love endure pain, without feeling and in some respects, share their pain.

In the end, all that is left is love, hope and prayer. I have found nothing detracts from the love. The humanness of struggle has in fact increased my love for her and myself and provided clarity for which to see the fissures and solutions without prejudice. I am still blind to her deceit as  love does blind but now I can help through love, which is a better way.

Many folks are hard-core adapters and devotees of life’s societal norms and while I have never fit into this category, I understand the rules of the game. Those dark horses who refuse to learn and scoff will always be outside the circle of candy, roses and epicurean delights. They are perhaps the ones who need love the most. They are the adult children shyly clutching the barbed wire fence looking to others for succor on Valentine’s Day. They are the dogs baying at the family door, waiting to be let in.

I have never been one to look away or ignore the pleas in their eyes. I’m a sucker for a tin cup and a hard luck story. Stories are who we are, singularly and collectively. If we choose to look away and turn our backs on those in need, this tells our story too.

During that frosty, sunny weekend of celebration for love and family,  I felt it should have been impossible to exclude those who need us the most. Those who are the most vulnerable need us to be vulnerable and be the love. Be their Valentine.

If your family, like mine has dysfunction, love and embrace that too. Valentine’s and Family Day are not always filled with pink hearts and pretty pictures. The key to loving is in the acceptance of another’s ability for impropriety, their fragility, imperfections, foolish hearts and yes, their selfishness.  It is the essence of Valentine’s and Family Day. It is the heart and soul of every day.

I am single this year so no roses, chocolates or champagne. Instead, I choose to flow with my profound love of family and spent part of the weekend with them and as usual, my cup was overflowing. I hope yours was too.

When you learn to accept instead of expect, you’ll have fewer disappointments.


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