Valentine Tails of Love



Published:

Photo courtesy of Patrick Hempfing

“Mattie, will you be my Valentine?” On Feb. 1, I’ll pose this question to my wife of 30 years. She’ll be noncommittal. Over the 14 days that follow, I’ll continue to romance Mattie with poems, small gifts and various acts of service in an effort to convince her that I’m the Valentine for her. Finally, late in the evening on Valentine’s Day, Mattie will say “Yes, I’ll be your Valentine this year.” 

We started playing this game before we were married. It’s not easy to come up with fresh rhymes 14 times each February, even for a writer. A wiser man would have quit years ago. I thought things would get easier when my 10-year-old daughter, Jessie, was younger. She joined in the efforts to convince her mom to select me. Unfortunately, my proponent turned into my opponent during the last few years, as Jessie started lobbying for Mattie to choose her. Could Valentine’s Day get any more challenging? Surprisingly, yes. 

Jessie is now also campaigning on behalf of our dog, Sadie, who joined in the competition to be Mattie’s Valentine. Jessie sends emails and handwritten notes, some stamped with an inked dog paw, and often with drawings or cut-out hearts, signed by the dog. One example read, “Dear Woofy Mom, I love you! Be my Woofitine.” How can I compete with dog love?

Recently, though, I witnessed a beautiful display of love that didn’t involve poetry, flowers, chocolate … or removing ink from a dog’s paw. The love came from Jessie’s head as she had 9 inches of hair cut off and donated to an organization that makes wigs for women fighting cancer. Of course, I had my camera and camcorder to capture Jessie’s haircut. Mattie pulled away from work. Even Jessie’s grandmother, who happened to be in town, came to watch. The beauty salon should have sold tickets.

As the hairdresser formed two tight ponytails to prepare Jessie’s hair for the scissors, I observed a mother holding her 1-year-old son in the chair next to Jessie’s. The little guy did pretty well until the hairdresser broke out her noisy shaver, which resulted in a few tears. My eyes moved back and forth between the two young customers. One received a slight trim, while the other lost a lot of hair. 

Photo courtesy of Patrick Hempfing

My mind wandered back to the scene in our kitchen years ago, when Mattie gave Jessie her first haircut. At the time, I highly questioned her decision to do it herself, as I remembered Mattie’s only haircutting experience — the “trim” she gave our first dog. The long strands on our sheltie’s hindquarters touched the ground and dragged leaves into the house. Mattie made some lopsided cuts, then had to even them out. The remaining fur barely covered the poor dog’s behind.

The hairdresser cut off Jessie’s two ponytails and carefully placed them in a plastic bag, then posed with our pretty, short-haired girl for some pictures. At home, we addressed a padded envelope and slid in the bag containing Jessie’s hair, along with her name and address. Many times, I’ve left the post office feeling happy that in a few days, a card, letter or photo I had mailed would make someone’s day. I won’t soon forget the feeling I had when I mailed my daughter’s hair. Love can be expressed in many ways.

I’m confident that in the days ahead, I’ll overcome my daughter’s rivalry, as well as my dog’s, and win Mattie’s heart for another Valentine’s Day. And when I hug my Valentine this year, I’ll think about other husbands who are thankful they can hug their wives, regardless of how much hair either spouse has.

If you’d like to learn more about donating hair to a good cause, check out Pantene Beautiful Lengths at pantene.com (click on “Beautiful Lengths”) and Locks of Love at locksoflove.org.

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and writer. Follow Hempfing at facebook.com/patricklhempfing and on Twitter @PatrickHempfing.

 

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Sponsor: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Contact Name: Bethany Fager
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is putting on the hilarious, yet sometimes tender, musical production of Seussical on March 15-16 and 22-23. It is a family-friendly show that...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
1050 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Durham Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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The Raleigh Boychoir will reach new heights as our choristers and community present Dr. Tim Sharp’s “High Lonesome Bluegrass Mass.” Welcoming area boys to perform in...

Cost: Free

Where:
First Baptist Church
99 N Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Raleigh Boychoir
Telephone: 919-881-9259
Contact Name: Erin O'Hara
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Ziggy is a shy boy who would rather stay at home and watch television than explore the island of Jamaica. Over the course of his onstage journey, with some help from his friend Nansi, he...

Cost: $18/adult, $12 ages 12 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. Choose course #121675.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Celtic Woman celebrates Ireland's rich musical and cultural heritage, while continuing its remarkable legacy of introducing some of Ireland's most talented singers and musicians onto the...

Cost: $43 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist...

Cost: $25 and up

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Shop for gently used kids' clothing, toys, furniture, baby equipment and more. See the website for shopping hours.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hayes Barton Baptist Church
1800 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2018 Readers' Favorites are.