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The Year I Forgot Valentine’s Day

Updated on October 1, 2018
rmcrayne profile image

Rose Mary is an Air Force veteran. She has been writing online since 2009, and enjoys writing on a variety of topics.

San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio River Walk | Source

Hello Old Friend

One year in February, I ran into an old friend. Actually an old Army buddy. Hah! I’ve always wanted to say that, “an old Army buddy”! I can’t remember the specifics, but I guess the Air Force was having some kind of conference, like the Physical and Occupational Therapy biennial Management Symposium, and we were hosting in San Antonio. I was walking with friends along the River Walk going to lunch. Then I saw my friend! “George?” It was him! He was in San Antonio for an Army conference.

George was an Army Veterinary Surgeon. We were stationed in Turkey together. Actually, he was Miss Mocha Bean’s “Uncle George”. George was roommates with my physical therapy colleague, Deb. They lived across the road from me and my then-spouse in “the village” right outside of the base. Deb and I were members of a team that traveled to Ankara and Izmir, Turkey, and Iraklion, Crete to consult in the schools. We traveled a lot. We were gone from our home base, Incirlik, near Adana, Turkey, slightly more than half the time. It was pretty grueling. George traveled too, covering the various base veterinary clinics. Sometimes either George or my team would already be on the road somewhere, and not realize we would all be in the same place the following week!

Izmir on the Aegean, where my team often ran into George, also on temporary duty there
Izmir on the Aegean, where my team often ran into George, also on temporary duty there | Source

Friends in Turkey

On these trips when we all wound up in the same place at the same time, we’d have nice long dinners in the evenings, and spend time in the shops looking at handmade Turkish and Persian carpets and drinking hot tea called çay. When we were all “home”, we’d have movie marathons at my apartment on the weekends. The base had one television station, with programs from the previous year. Off base, we had nothing, except videos sent by friends and relatives. My family got off to a very slow start sending taped TV programs. Our favorite was when Deb’s family sent her Star Trek, Next Generation. We also had a marathon watching I, Claudius, also courtesy of Deb.

We had regular dinners with our Turkish friends. We’d barbeque on the roof. Or sometimes our Turkish neighbors would just invite us for roasted corn, or watermelon. One of our bigger eating occasions, Uncle George was naturally coming over. He had recently had to give Miss Mocha Bean anesthesia for an x-ray, which was scary to her. When he came to our apartment, he expected to greet Miss Mocha Bean as usual. This time though she remembered her last official visit with him and ran the other way! I think it really hurt Uncle George’s feelings!

Baby picture of Miss Mocha Bean
Baby picture of Miss Mocha Bean | Source

Visiting With Miss Mocha Bean

When I ran into Uncle George on the Riverwalk, it had been about 8 years since we’d seen each other. We made plans to go to dinner later that week. I picked him up and we went to the Olive Garden. It was a mad house! We were saying “What the heck is going on?! Why are there so many people here on a week night?!” We put our name on the list and were told it was about a two hour wait. Plan B!

We decided to go ahead to my house and visit with Miss Mocha Bean, which we were going to do after dinner. It was a nice visit. And somewhere during that visit, Uncle George said the nicest thing anyone has ever said regarding Mocha. He said, “You two spoil each other.” My heart may have skipped a beat! Everyone always said Mocha was spoiled, which I didn’t mind too much. But this was much more true! Our relationship was not one-way! We did indeed spoil each other.

So That's Why It's So Crowded

Miss Mocha Bean was a Boykin Spaniel. They are bird dogs raised in the Southeast, and are the state dog of South Carolina. I’d had her since she was 4 weeks old and weighed 3.7 lbs. My spouse had brought her home from the vet clinic he worked at right before we went to my first duty station in Illinois. The breeder had accidentally dropped something on her and mangled her left hind leg. So that’s how I came to have a 4 week old amputee puppy at a time when it was not convenient to train a new puppy. But Miss Mocha Bean and I bonded. My spouse used to say “I love her and she loves you.”

Well anyway, we eventually had our dinner at Olive Garden, and figured out somewhere along the way that the reason it was so crowded was because it was Valentine’s Day! I’m sure we had a laugh at ourselves, and how absorbed we were in our military careers. I told George it was a shame he had not taken some extra time off in San Antonio with his conference so we could take a day trip. George was very familiar with San Antonio and the surrounding area too. As luck would have it, he was coming back in a few weeks for another class or conference of some kind.

Viewfrom where George and I sat along the river behind the shops in Wimberly, Texas
Viewfrom where George and I sat along the river behind the shops in Wimberly, Texas | Source

Relaxing Day in the Hill Country, Sort Of

When George returned, we drove my Saab to the Hill Country. We drove part of the Devil’s Backbone, a scenic and curvy road, perfect for a great car like mine. We stopped in Boerne, Bandera and Wimberly. We browsed my favorite shops in Wimberly, and sat a long time along the river. We talked about the stress of our military careers. George asked me if I could ever dismiss it from my mind completely. The answer was “no” for both of us, but there was some comfort in that, at least for me anyway. It was a relief saying something out loud that I had carried inside for so long, and knowing of a certainty that someone else truly understood.

And so it was that one of my most memorable Valentine’s Days ever involved no chocolate, no flowers and no romance. There was a nice dinner with wine, and a day trip a few weeks later. But the best thing was the memories of Miss Mocha Bean and our good friend, an old Army buddy, Uncle George.

James Taylor You've Got a Friend

© 2010 rmcrayne


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    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks so much for your comment manjubose. This traffic doesn't get much traffic, so it's nice to be appreciated.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      It is enjoyable and funny. Presentation is quite good. Anybody may have this experience. Will they be to share in this nice way?

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Springboard, what a beautiful thing to say. Yet another unexpected surprise for me on another Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day to you too, friend.

    • Springboard profile image


      11 years ago from Wisconsin

      Perhaps it serves as a subtle reminder that in life we need not define specific days to enjoy the company of family, lovers, or just friends. Happy Valentine's Day.

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks for your comment janiek. I'm really surprised at the warm reception for this hub!

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 

      11 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      I still have deep feelings for certain people I met while in the military. What a great story.

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Wow Patty, thank you so much. This is certainly one of the best compliments I've received on HubPages!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Good friendships are made in the Army, for certain and I enjoy hearing about them. This is right up there with any of those written of by Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation. What reporter will write the military friendship stories for the current generation? We need more stories like this one.

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks Paradise. It really means a lot coming from you. Would you believe it's only recently occurred to me to write my personal stories? Even if just for myself to keep the memories alive.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      11 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh, I love this hub. What a good story! And Miss Mocha Bean, spoils you too, the great doggy! Lovely, and just right. You really should do more of these, especially since you've travelled with the military. It's always refreshing to hear of foreign parts, for those of us who don't get to visit very often.

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks Putz. I've only written a few hubs in what I consider "personal stories", and have recently thought I should do more. I don't have kids, but it'd be nice to record them for myself for when the memories fade. In pondering this, you have definitely been at the top of the list of hubbers that have inspired me.

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 

      11 years ago

      It's always nice to run into old friends and renew old acquaintances. The special friends and memories we made and times we shared will always have a warm spot in our heart. thanks for your great hub.

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks for reading RedElf. Yes it was a very nice memory, and now I've created something to help me remember it years from now when remembering is REALLY not what I do best!

    • RedElf profile image


      11 years ago from Canada

      ...but how lovely to run into your "old Army buddy" on Valentine's Day - even if he wasn't a Valentine, and even if neither of you remembered!

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting dohn. Back in my younger days I think I had plenty of romantic Valentine's Days. I think I even vaguely remember a dozen roses a time or two. Funny though, this is the only Valentine's Day that I remember quite well. Maybe I should try ginkgo?!

    • dohn121 profile image


      11 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I really enjoyed this, Rose Mary. It's funny how both of you guys could be oblivious to Valentine's Day, as I'm sure others do the same thing every year. I've only had one good experience with Valentine's Day...Okay, maybe two, but no more! It's great how certain things can trigger such memories. I'm quickly learning this as I'm becoming more and more an adult (yuck!). Thank you for sharing :D


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