I am asking my girlfriend from college -- with whom I recently reconnected -- Brenda Bateman, to be my Valentine.
I just called her "Hatley" and she was my best friend and the one who believed in me the most, among a lot of great close pals. But she is a very special person and I caused her and a lot of other people a great deal of pain.
She is responsible for my return home to Jacksonville after 40 years. It was both the best and worst time of my life because I had a secret I could never share. Not back then. And not there. In not being able to deal with it, or talk about it, I hurt everyone in my life -- especially when I left them, driving out of town and never looking back.
She married a wonderful man and had a great marriage until he recently passed away and she found me on Facebook. (And then hounded me to return. There is so much to tell, I don't know where to begin. I haven't even begun to examine my feelings).
We were driving through downtown Houston yesterday and I saw all these tall gleaming towers named after wealthy men. And I thought how nice if someone of wealth built towers and named them after people like Brenda, who is presently a youth pastor in a Chinese church near Dallas. A woman living a quiet but fierce life of love, creating healing through direct action and not taking "no" for an answer -- and believe me, I resisted.
Brenda, will you be my Valentine today?
(Jim won't mind one bit, and I hope you get to meet him one day. He's very much taken to calling everyone "darlin'," now that he's been in Texas for a month. You two will "darlin'" each other to death.)