Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Column: Being brave enough to care

Column: Being brave enough to care

  • 0

Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.

It’s a rose. It’s patient and kind. It’s a battlefield. It’s a warm puppy. According to Merriam-Webster, all of these words are used to define love: affection, attraction, admiration, adoration, cherish, delight, relish.

How many times a day do you use the word love? Possibly more in February than in August, which is a hot, dry month without a holiday that preys on emotion, unless you celebrate Left-Handers Day in a big way. The other months have holidays that tug at your heartstrings and cause you to send a card to someone. Maybe you have been known to exclaim, "I just love green beer!" after marching over the river in the only bi-state St. Patrick’s Day parade. Or you’ve proclaimed from a hillside overlooking the Mississippi, "I love the starburst fireworks best!"

In grade school, February had us celebrating the birthdays of both Lincoln and Washington with sweet smelling, mimeographed worksheets adorned with either a log cabin and a stovepipe hat or a cherry tree and a tricorn hat, but the February holiday that elicited both terror and titillation was Valentine’s Day. Children were expected to bring a Valentine addressed to each classmate. Sometimes we would painstakingly cut hearts out of red construction paper and paste bits of paper doilies or white tissue paper on them.

I remember the year my mother purchased a box of Valentine cards with an animal theme. I sat in front of our coffee table on a shag carpet in varying shades of avocado green, scooted an orange ceramic ashtray to the other end, and studied every detail of those cards. I knew which girl was going to get the hippopotamus in a tutu because she had a dress that was similar. It was easy to choose who should get some cards, but I agonized over the personal wording that seemed too intimate on others:

I can’t bear it if you won’t be my Valentine.

I otter tell you, I think you’re sweet.

I’m not monkeying around, I want you to be my Valentine.

I just knew I’d blush if I presented one of those to a boy.

My efficient sister would be finished with hers long before I had mine sorted into preliminary piles. I was nervous that something on a card might embarrass the receiver.

Actually, I was more concerned that the saying on the card would embarrass me. I remember being told, "You don’t have to marry them, just give ‘em a Valentine!"

Why is it sometimes difficult to express love to others when we use the word love all day long to state how we feel about things other than people? We say that we love the spray from ocean waves, the smell of coffee, and the giggle of a baby. I love reading, swimming and games with friends. I used to think that loving those things didn’t have the capacity to shatter me the way divulging my adoration for another did. I didn’t want to reveal feelings which might not be reciprocated. I have since realized that the only way I will be shattered is by being separated by distance or circumstance from those I cherish. If my feelings aren’t reciprocated they aren’t diminished. I don’t need to be adored in return; I am brave enough to continue to care. Maybe my love is exactly what another needs.

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu claimed, "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

If you are reading this, I want you to know that I’m not lion, I want you to be my Valentine.

Anne VandeMoortel, a regular columnist, is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.


Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

My mother in law and I were traveling on a highway when I remarked on the loveliness of the redbud trees. During our three hour route we were able to see redbuds in different stages of bloom. The progression of the maturation of the trees made it seem as if we were driving through the days of spring. At first the hard maroon buds were in stark contrast to the pale gray sky. As we traveled along we began to see redbud trees in full bloom.

Listening to President Biden’s State of the Union speech last Wednesday brought to mind a talk he gave in Rock Island some 40 years ago. He had come on his own initiative — and at his own expense — to urge my re-election to the Illinois Senate in 1980.

When I received my first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine last December, nobody paid me to roll up my sleeve. Yet, as vaccination efforts approach an expected tipping point, at which the amount of available vaccine exceeds the number of willing recipients, with the rate of vaccination far below the threshold required for herd immunity, paying people to take their shots likely offers our society’s best chance at stemming the pandemic.

In an era in which people in positions of high authority lie with abandon, truthfulness tends to get lost in the shuffle. Yet it is something that is of tremendous importance, be it on the individual level or with respect to investment decisions and matters of public policy.

  • Updated

SPRINGFIELD – Imagine a state government with the worst credit rating in the nation, borrowing money to pay off the personal debts of individuals with six-digit incomes buying homes that cost as much as $500,000.

The Biden administration should avoid the Trump-era mistake of reducing the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico relationship to the single issue of immigration. The administration has made Vice President Kamala Harris its point person at the southern border, and she has been engaging with Mexico and Central American nations to embrace a regional approach to migration, which is laudable. But starting with her May 7 meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced over the weekend, the vice president should broaden the scope of her Mexico agenda to cover the complex array of economic, environmental, security, energy and rule-of-law issues that define U.S.-Mexico dealings.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News