I can’t make it through Valentine’s Day without thinking about my friend, Jimmy Parks, Jr.
It was on this day three years ago that Jimmy presented a beautiful Valentine’s card to the love of his life, Liz.
What seemed like any other Valentine’s Day would soon become much more poignant.
Liz had celebrated Valentine’s Day with Jimmy for every year of their adult lives.
Sweethearts shortly after they met at San Antonio’s Churchill High School in the Sixties, Jimmy and Liz became inseparable as teenagers and their bond grew stronger over the years. After high school, Jimmy was offered a full academic scholarship to Princeton, but he turned down the Ivy League because he couldn’t leave Liz. Instead, Jimmy stayed in San Antonio, attended Trinity University and married the woman he loved.
Four decades later, when I had Jimmy in my radio studio as a guest, Liz would often sit-in with us. What I witnessed was something I have rarely seen among couples together for so many years: that new-love-sparkle in their eyes. Both Jimmy and Liz treated each other with the same blissful affection that young lovers do when first falling head-over-heels for one another.
When Jimmy inscribed his words to Liz inside that Valentine’s card, he had no idea that his hours on this Earth were nearly over. Jimmy was planning his life’s next big adventure – a run for the United States Congress.
But God and fate had a different plan for Jimmy.
Just five days after he handed the Valentine’s card to Liz, he would leave this world in the blink of an eye.
Suddenly, Jimmy died the Sunday morning after Valentine’s Day.
Jimmy’s card for Liz was displayed a few days later at Porter Loring Mortuary as I joined a line of mourners wrapped around the building to pay our respects.
That day we all read the words Jimmy wrote to Liz:
I am so much more in love with you than I was last year on Valentine’s, that I’m sure my love for you can’t expand anymore.
But I do want to love you more. My deepest regret is that I only have the balance of a lifetime to love you…
to exercise my love for you…
and to let you know how much I love you.
Jimmy Parks taught me many life lessons.
His last was through this Valentine’s Day card to Liz.
Reading his loving words, I am reminded not only of the importance of expressing love, but of the fleeting nature of our dance upon this Earth.
I believe that the spirit of Jimmy Parks lives on.
And I believe that the love he showers upon Liz and his family and friends is now returning to him in waves.
On and on.