Until The Cows Come Home by prettybluebirds
Valentines Writing Contest contest entry
On January 13th I decided it was time to do some serious de-cluttering and thought the attics would be a good place to start. I hadn't looked at some of the stuff in those back corners for years. The thought itself was a bit daunting. I knew I needed to quit procrastinating, roll my sleeves up, and get with it.
We live in an old farmhouse with two attics running along the eaves on the north and south sides of the upstairs rooms. It is low and dark, so I grabbed a flashlight and tackled the long neglected job.
The first box contained Christmas ornaments. I figured most of them were destined for Goodwill, so I put a check mark on it and set it outside. The next box had Mom written on it, and I opened it to find a lot of the crafty stuff Mom used to make for us. There were crocheted animals, booties, doilies, sock monkeys, and other such items. My Mother loved to do crafts and give them on special occasions such as Christmas. 'Well, that one stays,' I smiled.
So it went throughout the morning. It seemed more stuff stayed then got put into the Goodwell pile. I was going to have to coerce my nieces and nephews into taking some of these mementos as I couldn't stand the thought of giving them to strangers.
I worked my way through the attic until I could see the back wall, and there, sitting off by itself, I saw a large box marked with a red marking pen-- ROY. I got a lump in my throat just looking at it. I had put the box up here in 1985 after my son, Roy, was killed in a hunting accident. I knew the box was here, but never could find the courage to open it. I guess I was afraid I would tear the scab off the wound in my heart.
After the funeral, I vaguely remember I walked through the house, and Roy's bedroom, picked up various items, which I then placed in a box. It was too painful to look at all the reminders of my son throughout the house, so I put them away for a future date. Now, thirty-some years later, I thought perhaps I could view the items calmly.
The first thing I observed were the Hot-Wheel cars my son loved so much. Roy had collected them since the time I bought him his first set at the age of six. He loved those cars and had some unique ones in the collection. Next, I noticed the pencil holder Roy made for me in woodworking class with 'To Mom from Roy,' stenciled on the bottom. That memory made me feel warm inside, so I set the pencil holder aside with the intentions of using it. I found the temporary driver's license Roy had been so proud of. His long awaited dream of driving finally to come true. I went through the items one at a time, each brought back a special memory. I felt I handled things pretty well.
Then I spotted a folded tissue wrapped piece of paper lying in the bottom of the box and carefully lifted it out. It had been in the hot attic for over thirty years and might be fragile, so I gently unfolded it. What I read on that paper shattered my composure completely.
It was a hand drawn heart written on notebook paper. Inside the heart were written the words. 'Mom, I will love you until the cows come home---and forever. Happy Valentines Day.' Roy meant it as a joke because we milked cows for a living, it was his way of telling me he loved me.
Roy made the drawing on Valentine's day 1985. I recall affixing the drawing to the refrigerator, and it was still there the day he died on November 30, 1985. I don't recall placing it in the box, but I must have because there it was. I put my head on my knees and cried as I hadn't cried since the day I lost my son. I cried for all I had lost and all the years of life Roy had never known. The children he might have had, and the grandchildren I would never have. I cried because there were so many things left undone and unsaid, but mostly I cried because I missed Roy so terribly much.
Later, when I got back in control of my wits, I got to thinking about finding this Valentine a month before Valentine's day 2017. It's like Roy was sending me a Valentine wish of love all over again. Who knows? I wish I could send him one in return. Perhaps I am by writing this story about his valentine. I hope so.
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