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時間︰2014-07-15 09:50點擊︰

My Forever Valentine

The traditional holidays in our house when I was a child were spent timing elaborate meals around football games. My father tried to make pleasant chitchat and eat as much as he could during halftime. At Christmas he found time to have a cup or two of holiday cheer and do his holly-shaped bow tie1. But he didn't truly shine until Valentine's Day.

I don't know whether it was because work at the office slowed during February or because the football season was over. But Valentine's Day was the time my father chose to show his love for the special people in his life. Over the years I fondly2 thought of him as my "Valentine Man."

My first recollection3 of the magic4 he could bring to Valentine's Day came when I was six. For several days I had been cutting out valentines for my classmates. Each of us was to decorate a "mailbox" and put it on our desk for others to give us cards. That box and its contents ushered in5 a succession6 of bittersweet7 memories of my entrance into a world of popularity8 contests marked by the number of cards received, the teasing about boyfriends/girlfriends and the tender care I gave to the card from the cutest boy in class.

That morning at the breakfast table I found a card and a gift- wrapped package at my chair. The card was signed "Love, Dad", and the gift was a ring with a small piece of red glass to represent my birthstone9, a ruby10. There is little difference between red glass and rubies to a child of six, and I remember wearing that ring with a pride that all the cards in the world could not surpass11.

As I grew older, the gifts gave way to heart shaped boxes filled with my favorite chocolates and always included a special card signed "Love, Dad". In those years my "thank-yous" became more of a perfunctory12 response. The cards seemed less important, and I took for granted the valentine that would always be there. Long past the days of having a "mailbox" on my desk, I had placed my hopes and dreams in receiving cards and gifts from "significant others", and "Love, Dad" just didn't seem quite enough.

If my father knew then that he had been replaced, he never let it show. If he sensed any disappointment over valentines that didn't arrive for me, he just tried that much harder to create a positive atmosphere, giving me an extra hug and doing what he could to make my day a little brighter.

My mailbox eventually had a rural address, and the job of hand delivering candy and cards was relegated13 to the U.S. Postal Service. Never in ten years was my father's package late-- nor was it on the Valentine's Day eight years ago when I reached into the mailbox to find a card addressed to me in my mother's handwriting.

It was the kind of card that comes in an inexpensive assortment14 box sold by a child going door-to-door to try to earn money for a school project. It was the kind of card that you used to get from a grandmother or an aging aunt or, in this case, a dying father. It was the kind of card that put a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes because you knew the person no longer was able to go out and buy a real valentine. It was a card that signaled15 this would be the last you receive from him.

The card had a photograph of tulips16 on the outside, and on the inside my mother had printed "Happy Valentine's Day". Beneath it, scrawled17 in barely legible18 handwriting, was "Love, Dad".

His final card remains on my bulletin board today. It's a reminder of how special fathers can be and how important it had been to me over the years to know that I had a father who continued a tradition of love with a generosity of spirit, simple acts of understanding and an ability to express happiness over the people in his life.

Those things never die, nor does the memory of a man who never stopped being my valentine.

我永遠的情人節

當我還是小孩子的時候,我們家過傳統節日時總是把精心準備的節日餐安排在足球賽時間。我父親在中場休息時盡量聊些愉快的事兒並盡可能多吃東西。在聖誕節他會找時間為慶祝節日干上一兩杯,然後戴上他那冬青葉形狀的領結。但父親真正光彩熠熠的時候是情人節。

我不知道這是否是因為他班上的工作在二月份不那麼緊了,還是由于足球賽季結束了。但情人節這天,是父親用來向在他生活中佔有特殊位置的人表達愛心的日子。多少年來,我天真地把他看作是我"最思念的人"。

在我6歲那年的情人節,他給我帶來了第一次美妙的回憶。一連好幾天我都忙于為我的同學制作情人節禮物。我們每個人都要裝飾一個"信箱",然後把它放在書桌上,這樣別人就可以投放賀卡。這個信箱和里面的東西帶來了一連串苦樂參半的回憶︰我進入了一個"人緣競賽"的世界,所收卡片的多少則顯示了比賽結果,對于男朋友和女朋友的揶揄,以及我對班里最聰明男孩給我的賀卡的精心愛護。

那天早上吃早飯時,我在餐桌上發現了一張賀卡,並且在我的椅子上發現了一個禮品包裝紙的包裹。卡片上寫有"愛你的,爸爸",禮物是一個戒指,上面瓖著一片紅色的玻璃來象征我的誕生石--紅寶石。對一個6歲的孩子來說,紅玻璃和紅寶石並沒有什麼區別;我還記得我驕傲地戴著它,感到世界上所有的賀卡都無法與之相比。

當我長大了一點兒,禮物變成裝滿了我最喜愛的巧克力的心形盒子,並且里面總是有一個賀卡寫著"愛你的,爸爸"。在那些歲月里,我的感謝更多地成了一種敷衍的反應。賀卡似乎不再那麼重要,而且我認為情人節禮物理所當然總會在那兒。在我的書桌上放個"信箱"的日子早已過去,我已經把我的希望和夢想都寄托在從 "其他重要的人"那里收到賀卡和禮物,而"愛你的,爸爸"就似乎不那麼重要了。

不知爸爸那時是否知道他已經被取代,他從來沒表現出來過。如果他感覺到我因沒收到某些情人節禮物而失望,他就努力營造出一種歡快的氛圍,多擁抱我一下或是盡可能設法讓我這一天過得開心一點。

我的信箱終于有了一個鄉下的地址;原來親手贈送糖果和賀卡的工作都歸了美國郵政局管。在這10年里爸爸給我寄的包裹從來不會晚--8年前的情人節父親給我的賀卡依然準時到達,只是那張賀卡上是我母親的筆跡。

這張賀卡是一盒整套買的那種,價格便宜,是由為了給學校的某個項目籌款的小男孩挨家挨戶推銷的那種。這是一種你過去經常從祖母或年邁的姑媽那里收到的那種賀卡,而這次卻從不久于人世的父親那兒收到了。這種賀卡使你嗓子哽咽,雙眼噙淚,因為你知道給你寄賀卡的人已無法外出去買一個真正的情人節禮物了。這張賀卡預示著這將是你最後一次從他那兒收到情人節禮物。

這張賀卡的封面是一張郁金香花的照片,里面我母親工整地寫著"情人節快樂",在下面是父親歪歪扭扭難以辨認的字跡"愛你的,爸爸"。

他最後一次送給我的這張賀卡如今仍保存在我的記事牌上。它提醒我父親是多麼地不同尋常,以及這些年來對我是多麼地重要,我知道我有這樣一位父親,他以慷慨的胸懷、樸素的理解和一生中向他的親人表達祝福的能力,來保持著愛的傳統。

這些事情永遠也不會消失,我將永遠記著他,他是我永遠最思念的人。

1.bow tie 蝶形領結

2.fondly adv.充滿感情地,深情地

3.recollection n.回憶

4.magic n.魅力,魔力,施魔法

5.usher vt.(與in搭配)展示,預報…的來到

6.succession n.(前後相接的)一系列

7.bittersweet adj.又苦又樂的

8.popularity n.得人心,聲望

9.birthstone n.誕生石(象征出生月份表示吉祥的寶石,從1月至12月通常分別為,石榴石、紫晶、血紋綠寶石、金剛石、綠寶石、珍珠、紅寶石、纏絲瑪瑙、藍寶石、蛋白石、黃玉、綠松石)

10.ruby n.紅寶石,紅寶石制品

11.surpass vt.勝過

12.perfunctory adj.敷衍的

13.relegate vt.交付,托付

14.assortment n.分類

15.signal vt.表明,標志著

16.tulip n.[植]郁金香

17.scrawl vi.涂寫

18.legible adj.清楚的

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