Happy Valentine’s Day! Traditional flowers, gifts, and chocolate will top consumer lists on this day. My top pick is baking a french chocolate cake that is rich yet light and amazing! The consistency is perfect even though it only contains four tablespoons of flour. Technically this tradition of mine is flour-less. This morning that got me thinking about life. What’s needed to keep our most valued things in tact? More than things, how about relationships and conversations?
It often takes an aha moment to show us how our relationship with one person is intertwined with another. The idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other isn’t far-fetched at all. In fact, that chain of a “friend of a friend” played out again recently. I sat down with the founder of a local business to talk about an event. That led to Hope Matters mission of giving a voice and coping tools to families facing difficult journeys, and to a conversation about cancer (twice losing a family member) and then to the stress of watching his father cope with a loved one’s battle with Alzheimer’s. What started as a conversation about community turned into a conversation about family, and the need for a “recipe” to keep it together. “Indulge the moments,” I advised, “don’t let the disease steal what you value most. Love has memory. It sticks around even when relationships fade.”
The grandchildren had already become unrecognizable to his loved one. This was now a heart-to-heart conversation. The most hopeful tool I give to people is a rather simple one. Recognizing “someone” isn’t as important as recognizing “something” that defines the connection; love can do that powerfully, even in Alzheimer’s.
Saint Valentine was known as a patron saint of love. Some say God worked through his life to perform miracles and teach people how to recognize and experience true love.
As I headed out after the meeting, I offered to connect with his father and see what I could do to equip him for the long-haul. Turns out, his father and I have known each other for years in attending a local memory loss support group. The six degrees of connection had brought us together in the spirit of community, conversation, and shared relationships. It was absolutely serendipitous!
By the end of March, I’ll be hearing my name as fairy godmother. A woman who attends our Annual Prom for senior citizens will arrive in Cinderella-fashion. The night makes all the seniors feel special, along with their friends and family. I’m no fairy godmother, but it’s a great feeling to be the icing on someone’s cake! Have some chocolate cake today. Celebrate love. Experience the value of connection and conversation.