Last night my mum asked “How did you celebrate Love Day today?” A love day. Valentine’s Day, originally pronounced as a feast day to celebrate St Valentine of Rome who died in AD 269 has become known as a day to express our love and affection for that someone special in our lives. The one we love. It then made me remember that Ma’s husband, my Pa, passed away 13 years ago this April. It did not dawn on me all day that maybe Ma would have felt lonely, sad even. Remembering the loss of her husband of 63 years. Missing him. His wit and charm. His strength. His broad shoulders to bear all burden. His wisdom. His love. There would have been countless brief moments they shared that made many lifelong memories. I cut The Mrs the best red rose in the garden. It was the most perfect bloom from a Mr Lincoln standard. My next door neighbour’s garden has a ring of twelve Mr Lincoln standards. It is common for a man to give the love of his life a diamond ring or gold ring. But a ring of roses? Mind you, these are not cut roses! Francis is the only man I know who gave his wife a ring of twelve rose plants. Living, fragrant, colourful and long-lasting. Not cut and certainly not plastic. I went over to their garden and cut the best rose from the ring that is his present to his wife. I won’t tell if you won’t tell. I planned to bring it home quickly to The Mrs, freshly cut unlike the ones you buy from a florist. But, she happened to walk over and so I handed her the rose. Her reaction? “Cheapskate (maybe I misheard), you didn’t even pay for it!” It is the one big disadvantage to have a garden at one’s easy reach. I never have to buy The Mrs flowers. Flowers from my own garden (or the neighbour’s garden) somehow have no oomph. They don’t get me any brownie points. I lack ingenuity and credibility when I bring home flowers from the backyard. There is no price tag. Free, not paid for. No value. Not valued. But, when I got home, the red rose I gave her was already in a vase, sitting proudly on the kitchen window sill. Happy Valentine’s! Ma deserves a red rose too. Let me quickly wander next door and see what I can do before she wakes up. Don’t be surprised to see a red rose on her bedside table.
I met some philistines on Valentine’s yesterday. They shuddered when I mentioned I heard some of the most romantic music on radio. ABC’s classic fm station that is affixed permanently on my car’s tuner played some really gorgeous heart-tugging classics yesterday. In Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, who amongst us can say they won’t feel the melancholy, the sadness, and yes, the triumphant love that conquers all when we have the magic potion that helps us believe in ourselves? What more need I look for? She loves me! Yes, she loves me, I see it”. Who can shake their heads and say no to Saint-Saëns’ The Swan? Camille is the modern saint who I can relate very well. After all, my son won Australia’s very prestigious award playing one of the French composer’s most memorable concertos. The radio station also played The Adagio from Spartacus, by Aram Khachaturian. Such beautiful music stirs the heart, sometimes even melts it. It literally is love in the air, well, airwaves at least. It made me recall my boyhood days playing in the Penang Philharmonic as a first violin tutti. My favourite memory was playing that romantic music by Mascagni – Intermezzo, from Cavalleria Rusticana. Unforgettable. I had a crush on a young Girl Guide with pigtails that year. Our eyes met briefly at a campfire. You could say she put my heart on fire that night. A first feeling of romance. A first attraction. Maybe it was love at first sight. I did not forget her name, only because I never knew it. I thought she was Janet but maybe her name was Susan. No matter. The name isn’t important. It never was. But she was. The briefest of encounters, yet a memory forever. I forgot about re-enacting memorable soccer matches with scrunched up paper balls in my parent’s shop that year. I suddenly grew up. But, I didn’t give her a red rose. Back then I wasn’t aware February 14 is “Love Day”. Philistines declare they don’t like classical music. They cannot understand what the fuss is about. They cannot stand it. They tell me they do not enjoy it. “How can music affect our mood?” one of them challenged me. And then he added, “yeah maybe it can affect my mood! It makes me bored!” How can music make us feel romantic? They would not have forgotten the soundtracks that are embedded in their beings when they first fell madly in love or when they nursed a broken heart. Deep emotions are often accompanied by music that remains with us forever. Music can overwhelm us. It is not uncommon to see people cry during beautiful moments in a classical music concert. Or hear the uncontrolled orgasmic groans from a woman in the audience sitting nearby. It is scientifically proven that listening to soothing music increases the level of oxytocin – the love hormone. Our body releases oxytocin during social bonding, sexual activities and also during childbirth. I shall abruptly end here, as I am in need of some oxytocin. Let me crank up my radio!
Philistines are those hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, according to the Oxford dictionary. Philistines on Valentine’s make me cringe. They are likely amongst the ones that buy their Valentine a box of chocolates, pay a premium for a dozen red roses from a florist and after a romantic dinner, attend a movie. They think a commercialised way to show their feelings is romantic. When their mood ebbs and flows inside the movie theatre, when their emotions change, be it feeling sad, happy, excited, relaxed, energised, scared, threatened, or maybe even sensual, they are the ones totally ignorant of the fact that the movie’s music was performed by an orchestra trained in classical music.