For most American women, Valentine’s Day is either one of the most loved or hated days of the year. I’ve only been in a relationship maybe three Valentine’s Days in my 41 years. So, I have sincerely been indifferent about the day. As the eternally single, I have not staged boycotts by attending anti-Valentine’s Day parties with my bitter, single girlfriends draped in black. On the rare occasions when I have had my own funny Valentine, I have not gone overboard with gifts or been terribly disappointed if overindulgent bouquets of roses did not come. To be sure, indifferent summed up Valentine’s Day for me – that is until Feb. 14, 2009. I will spare you the melodrama and just say on that particular Valentine’s Day my Daddy’s short and brave battle with cancer ended.

I am no longer indifferent about Valentine’s Day. In a rather existential Heidegger-esque way, Valentine’s Day now makes me totally and completely “being towards LOVE.” I don’t care if it is a free-market, capitalist advertising ploy by the greeting card and chocolate industry. I am after all a free-market capitalist choc-aholic who runs a marketing shop. But really regardless of the gimmicks behind it, I now get it. Since my Daddy’s passing, Valentine’s Day has undergone major re-branding. It is now a day on which I deliberately celebrate love.

In my family and among my close friends, “I love you,” has been reduced to a parting conclusion to any conversation. So on Valentine’s Day, I am intentional about my use of the word love. I quite literally count my blessings for the people and things that I love.

Here are some of the blessings and such that I will always LOVE about my Daddy – I love that he cooked almost everything in a cast iron skillet. I love that he gave me the nick name “Ree.” I love that even after the divorce, to Daddy my Mama was the standard for what a lady should be and he never allowed anyone to disrespect her. I love that he and my Uncle James, his twin brother, never stopped behaving like twins. At 60 years old, they still dressed exactly alike. I love that when he farted, he said, “There’s more room out there than there is in me.” I love that when I came home from second grade saying that humans were descendants from apes, he quickly corrected me and in his colorful way explained the beauty of creation. I love that by the time I was 10, he had me hooked on classic cinema. I love that when he took the greyhound to visit Dee-Dee and the rugrats, I got to pick him up so that he could see my condo. I love that he walked with swagger and always thought he was God’s gift. I love that he wasn’t lazy and didn’t mind a hard day’s work to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. I love that he never bought a fake Christmas tree and was partial to Frasier firs. I love that even though he didn’t really care for Republicans, he proudly displayed my pictures with President George W. Bush. I love that he was a man’s man who was never, ever short on “I love you’s.”