My Secret Valentine

If you recall last year’s Valentine’s post, “13 Reasons Why”, you know that I am not a fan of of Valentine’s Day. First, I admit that my stance has softened. Maybe that is because I recently reflected on Valentine’s Days past and tried to recall the ones that really stood out. A few bad ones come to mind, but the hurt is long gone. There was one however that I can call perfect.

It was 1983, my junior year of college and I was going through the longest date-free period thus far in my life. I find that hilarious now because it was probably a matter of weeks, not months or years. I don’t recall if I had interest in a particular man. Probably not. The man that I had long thought was “the one” had married someone else a few months prior and I was doing a pretty poor job of acting like it didn’t matter to me.

I worked as a Resident Adviser in a high rise dormitory on the campus of the University of Kentucky. The duties included periodic shifts of working at the front desk, or as we called it, “sit desk” We answered the phones, signed visitors in and out and got to jump over the counter when a guy would try to sneak onto an elevator without signing in. We also called residents rooms with messages about things like deliveries.

The Kirwan Blanding Complex was still considered modern in 1983

The flowers that came into the 23 floor residence hall on Valentines Day was quite the sight to see! The heady aroma of roses and carnations was so thick that upon entering the lobby you could taste them in the air. I couldn’t help but notice one in particular that year, an arrangement of large mums made to look like an adorable playful puppy. I thought the “puppy flowers” were better than the dozens of roses because the sender had taken the care to pick out an arrangement that was different and unique.

Somewhere I have a picture of the actual flower arrangement but these are very close to being the same.

A couple of days passed and it was again my turn to sit desk. I was surprised that the puppy flowers were still sitting unclaimed on the counter. I asked a fellow R.A. if I should perhaps call the the recipient again. She looked confused then said, “Those are yours, didn’t you look at the card?” I was certain she was either mistaken or teasing me, but when I lifted the card I found my name typed on the envelope.

The card inside simply read, “From your Secret Admirer”. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea who could have sent the flowers. I know for sure that they were not sent by my parents in an effort to brighten my day. For one, my Dad was a terrible secret keeper and two, they couldn’t even afford to help me with tuition, books or even clothes. I asked all around about the delivery (some guys saved money by delivering flowers to the desk rather than pay extra for the florist to deliver) but no one remembered who brought the puppy arrangement in.

For the next week I waited for the sender to reveal his identity. I was extra nice to all the men that I knew as to encourage the sender to be brave enough to admit his attraction. It never happened. Never!

After much thought I wondered about a guy that was my friend. The problem was that he was only my friend to me. If I asked him about the flowers then I would have to tell him, if he was the sender, that I didn’t want more than friendship from him. I didn’t want to hurt him. But wouldn’t he tell me if they were from him? Wouldn’t he drop hints? Maybe he wanted me to ask him, but I never did.

Time moved on and the chill of winter gave way to sunshine. By Spring Break I was in a relationship and the flowers were long gone leaving behind a forever mystery that gives me a warm memory to cherish. Relationships are never perfect but this sweet memory, while not as wonderful as a good relationship, can remain forever untarnished.

Thanks for reading and remember to tell those special people in your life that you love and appreciate them.

Photo credit and appreciation to Tim Mossholder and Laura Ockel

1 Comment

  1. That is such an awesome memory! It’s fun to think of all the senders it could have been. I received anonymous flowers for Valentine’s Day my freshman year and always suspected my Mom, as she knew I was hurting over the breakup with a 3.5-year beau. She never admitted to it, tho. Given my single status, I’m glad that Valentine’s Day has taken on a larger meaning for me. There’s my special dad and my special friends, like you, who I want to be my Valentine of a different sort. Different kinds of love, but love that is probably stronger and more lasting than the beau kind!


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