Years ago, Hallmark had a great line of "retro" Valentine's Day cards. This one for mother who made dorky mother-daughter  matching dresses. (Click on pictures to enlarge for reading.)

Years ago, Hallmark had a great line of “retro” Valentine’s Day cards. This one was about a mother who made dorky mother-daughter matching dresses. (Click on pictures to enlarge for reading.)





In this card, kids figure out the awful "cafeteria surprise" lunch recipe.

In this card, kids figure out the awful “cafeteria surprise” lunch recipe.

In addition to Valentine’s Day, February 14th is also the date of many other “special” days as well, including these: “Ferris Wheel Day” ~ “Library Lovers Day” ~ “Quirky Alone Day” ~ “National Have A Heart Day” ~ “World Marriage Day” ~ “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” ~ “National Donor Day” ~ and “World Whale Day.”

In her novel A Spy In The House of Love, Anais Nin writes this: “As other girls prayed for handsomeness in a lover, or for wealth, or for power, or for poetry, she had prayed fervently: Let him be kind.”

Before dementia blurred her thinking, one of the qualities my mother valued most in a person was kindness. Because it was one of her many wonderful qualities, and a quality of my father, too, before the Alzheimer’s took over, I grew up looking for—and profoundly appreciating—kind people. My husband Jim is a man with many exceptional qualities, but when we were friends and co-workers, it was his genuine kindness that first drew me to him.

To all of you, on Valentine’s Day and every day, I wish much kindness in your lives.

"A tree is known by its fruit, a man by his deeds.  A good deed is never lost...he who plants kindness gathers love."      ~Saint Basil

“A tree is known by its fruit, a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost…he who plants kindness gathers love.”            ~Saint Basil


"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, importance of doing good things, lessons about life, life questions, Special days in February, special quotations, Things to be thankful for

74 responses to “A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE

  1. juliabarrett

    That is one Anais Nin book I have not read. Buying it today. Yes, kindness is very much underrated in a mate.

    • The part I quoted is a tender, brief introspection for the character Sabina, and is very different from all her escapades and sexual scenes to prove that she could have the same freedoms of men. As you know, Anais Nin was both ahead of her time, and also a victim of her family situation, and this book didn’t get the acclaim of some of her others. I’ll be eager to hear what you think of it, Julia.

  2. Last year, when I visited my mom she tod me ” I don’t want new clothes or a new recliner ( I tried to buy a new one) , all I want is a kind word and a visit.” I miss her.

  3. Oh yes, kindness is a wonderful trait. Love the retro cards. Did you make the quilt that says, “be kind”. 🙂

  4. Oh, I loved those Hallmark retro cards, Marylin. They were so funny! I could spend a half hour in the Hallmark store reading and laughing. Kindness…like humility, is a trait I always admire. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your beautiful mother.

  5. Molly

    Not to sound too PROUD, but I think that you, Mom, are one of the kindest people I know. (Especially when you don’t make us wear matching, dorky dresses!) One of the kindest things you have done for your grandchildren is THIS blog. This will be something that they can treasure forever and always…memories of their great grandmother written by their Mor-mor. We love you so much…thank you for being so kind and wonderful.

    • Aw, Mookie, you are so sweet. I love you all so much. Thank you.
      As you know, my kindest favor to us both on this post was that I DIDN’T post any of the pictures of us together in matching dresses I’d made. But although they were of the same fabrics, at least they were different styles –more appropriate to our ages and personalities–and not like the Hallmark card mother’s creations.
      Some day I hope Grace and Gannon will go back through all these posts and learn about their great-grandmother and her extraordinary humor, kindness, faith, creativity…and love for her family. I just wish they could have known both their Great-grandpa and Great-grandma before the Alzheimer’s and dementia.

  6. This is my kind of post – (sorry, couldn’t help myself.) The Anais Nin quote is especially a propos. I never prayed for a kind mate, but I got one nonetheless. This is a prompt to appreciate him more.

    • You’re my kind of blogging buddy, Marian, with your play on my words! 😉
      Even though you didn’t actually pray for a kind mate, you got one. Sometimes we don’t know what our hearts fully need, but we’re given these wondrous gifts anyway, which makes them even more special.

  7. That’s why I have always loved the words from Micah 6 What does the Lord want of you – To seek justice, love kindness and walk gently with your God.
    Kindness is at the heart of humanity Lovely post

    • I learned these words from both my grandmother and my mother, Rod, about seeking justice, loving kindness and walking gently with God. In a short summary they describe both of these important women in my life. As children, we learn what we live, and I was blessed to have such wonderful teachers.

  8. Claudia

    Truly lovely post….my matching dresses were with a sister…eventually, I came to hate that. I wanted to be me. Have a sweet and kind day tomorrow!

    • I didn’t have a sister, Claudia, but I do have four pictures of me with my brother during a toddler-to-kindergarten age when we’re dressed alike. Mom would lay out an old plaid skirt, take it apart and make little jackets out of the material for each of us, or matching corduroy overalls, etc. It was practical and economical then, and I don’t remember being especially embarrassed then, but I look at those pictures now and shake my head. 😉
      You have a sweet and kind day tomorrow as well!

  9. calvin

    The first words I ever read of Anais Nin were read over the shoulder of a man reading a well worn first edition hardcover red book with gold inlay, while on a 300 km trip to the town of Trinidad in the province of Sancti Spíritus in Cuba. The book was ‘A Spy in the House of Love’.

    Your right, so right indeed, kindness not love, should be the ‘punctuation’ on this scarlet day. Kindness is the path to peacefulness, to that peaceful easement into what we call love. Happy ‘Be-kind’ Day’ to you and your readers.

    • Calvin, you amaze me! Honestly, you’re the first male I’ve ever known who read Anais Nin’s A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE. I’ve known many males (especially English majors) who have read some of her other books, but not this one. I am so impressed.
      Did it make you want to read any of her other writing, or was that enough for you? 🙂
      Happy Be-Kind Day to you as well!

      • calvin

        No this is the one I know best from the chance encounter on a bus, though I find her persona fascinating because of ‘A Spy’. There is a very strong psychological presence in her writing that I find intriguing. You amazed me by using Anais Nin’s, Bordering on incredible coincidence, after doing this scribble http://www.beyondplumcreek.com/shtufffs/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/reflecting-in-the-lions-jaw.jpg I had went to Anais Nin’s Seduction of the Minotaur and read some passages. She to had beasts of seduction (poetic beasts). In Reflecting In The Lions Jaw, if you look top right, or stare top right, you might just vaguely see the Lion. Also, if you were to mirror the image and place side by side the resulting image is an open Lion’s mouth. And as I conceptually evolve ‘Ruth’, kindness is very much at the core. Ruth was born out of kindness from a friend.

      • I haven’t read enough of Anais Nin to be able to make many comparisons, but I do know the Incest writings were about her father, so her seduction of the minotaur is vividly symbolic. Thanks for the link, Calvin. The lion is a powerful symbol, and the colors are stunning. Even in some of her poetry, there is definitely a strong psychological presence. Very interesting.

  10. A kind word or a kind deed can make all the difference in the world.
    Thank you, Marylin, for the beautiful quotes and photos…I’m always sorry when I get too busy to come and visit your blog…because I always find peace and happiness here. 😉

  11. Oh, thank you so much, Vivian. It’s always good to hear from you, and I’m glad you find peace and happiness here. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  12. Kindness is my favourite too 🙂

  13. Like many traits, kindness is a quality that we humans need to continuously model. , while some think of kindness as a form of weakness. I confess I haven’t read works by Anais Nin. You have raised my curiosity. My dear husband left for a photographic workshop in Cuba, yesterday. He left a Valentine’s Day card under my pillow and I hid one in his suitcase. 😍 I would have loved to have known your parents. I can picture them on a Hallmark card. 😊

    • They would definitely have made precious card characters, Lynne.
      I love the way you and your husband left Valentine’s Day cards for each other in his suitcase and under your pillow. That’s so sweet.

  14. What a lovely post Marylin! Happy Valentine’s day to you and a day full of kindness 🙂

    This day is also my friend’s birthday which is kind of a relieve to – not her – but others. There is always a party to go to even if you have no Valentine. 🙂

    • What fun, Ilka! This is a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and the birthday of a friend.
      p.s. I shared the link to your training post with friends, which will be a good follow-up tomorrow after all the chocolates and candies.

  15. Kindness is a beautiful trait – I hear it in much of what you write, could be that’s what attracted your husband to you as well? Have a beautiful Valentines Day.

  16. Jim

    Marylin, my Valentine Sweetie, what a special Valentine’s Day gift to wake up this morning and read in this week’s blog of your appreciation of my kindness. However, I agree with Mo Mo “Mookie” that you are the kindest person we know, especially when it really matters, and I might also add that you are quite talented and inspiring! Your Hubby.

  17. Anais Nin is wise. Handsomeness fades. Wealth and power can be lost. Poetry will have little meaning if love does not include him being “kind.”

    I can see that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Your Mom’s focus on the merits of being “kind” were definitely passed on to you. How wonderful that your husband shares that excellent trait as well.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Jim. 😉

    • Judy, when my mother first met JIm, she later told me how much she liked him, how kind he was and how she felt comfortable with him. Being nice, thoughtful, helpful, considerate, honest and generous were all important qualities, and Jim had them all, but his kindness was a different quality. She–and I–both recognized that in Jim, too. In the past thirty years I’ve learned that he’s strong and solid and unwavering in the things he believes in, but his basic kindness hasn’t wavered either.
      Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!

  18. Kindness is hugely underrated and you are fortunate to have a family that has kindness at its core, Marylin. Happy Kindness Day.

  19. You definitely have the kindness your mom and dad modeled to you as evidenced by all your beautiful writings, recollections, and photographs.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

  20. Kindness is the best quality in a human being. I spent the day with my very kind husband and feel very grateful. Happy Valentine´s Day to you and yours.

  21. Nancy Parker Brummett

    How KIND of you to share these thoughts with us!

  22. Kindness…indeed a personal attribute or quality that can touch many hearts and bless the world around us. A wonderful post Marylin. Happy Valentine’s Day…enjoy the time celebrating loving kindness!

  23. We enjoyed every hour today, Robyn, and I hope you did, too! 🙂

  24. That second card cracked me up! How could I NOT know about Library Lover’s Day? And Quirky Alone Day? I could have celebrated those two at the same time reading odd books solo in my favorite library! I feel like I’m leaving here with homework, Mrs. Warner – you KNOW I have to go find out more about World Marriage Day for my own blog! Please know that, while it may READ like whining, I was actually saying it very kindly!

    • And I am very kindly supportive of your kind comments, Shel. 😉
      It’s the explanations and histories (and the people who made these special days) that make it all fascinating. Some of them I “tweak” a bit to fit my interpretation, but I love exploring the special days.

  25. jakesprinter

    Who’s never been satisfied and Inspired in this kind of articles of yours Marylin.. I love it much.

  26. Absolutely. Let there be kindness at home and around us.

  27. Hi Marylin, I wish I had a photo option on this comment because I’d send you a picture of the decorative plaque I have in my bathroom that says- The Highest Form of Wisdom is Kindness.
    Thank you for the lovely reminder that we should always think of being kind to one another.
    xo Joanne

    • I can picture it, Joanne, and it’s wonderful! Like you–and my mother–I believe Kindness is the highest form of wisdom. Thank you for sharing this, and I’ll keep on the lookout for a plaque.

  28. You and Jim sound perfect for each other- kindness is the best attribute from which to begin and maintain a relationship. So many folk fall short of this, or put it to one side in place of what is considered to be more important. I really can’t think of anything more important than kindness. Lovely thoughts for Valentine’s weekend, Marylin xx

    • Thank you, Jenny. There are many wonderful qualities–honesty, courtesy, helpfulness, tenderness, faithfulness–the list goes on and on. But for a contented and lasting relationship, I’m very grateful for kindness.
      I hope your Valentine’s Day weekend was a delight.

  29. My perpetually single friend has long called February 14th “Icky Day.” 🙂

  30. My (single) son and his friends call Valentine’s Day “Singles Awareness Day” (SAD). He jokes about it, but there are many who don’t. Talk about kindness: my son planned a Valentine’s Day party for the youth group he pastors. He had a movie, board games, pizza — a way for these teens to have fun together on a day that could be used to feel sorry for themselves … or worse. Yes, the woman who marries my son will have a kind man. I’m just waiting for them to find each other!

  31. When I was in college, my freshman roommate from Chicago went around wishing everyone Happy V-D, so at least SAD is more appropriate and on target. 😉
    You son sounds exceptional, Darla, and the way he looks out for the teens in the youth group is both thoughtful and kind. I’m with you, just hoping and waiting for the wonderful and kind woman to find him.

  32. dianabletter

    I’ll join in and say that Darla McDavid’s son sounds like a real catch. It reminds me of my kids having an anti-New Year’s Eve Club to help stop the spike in suicides around New Year’s Eve. And ahh, Marylin, kindness! That’s the title of my novel, A Remarkable Kindness, so the word and the act resonates with me. Thanks so much for posting this and thanks to all the many people who comment on your blog. You have a real community, Marylin, and that is wonderful.

    • I can’t wait for A REMARKABLE KINDNESS to make its debut, Diana! Do you have a specific date yet?
      It’s a pleasure to have you join the community with your comments; I’m always amazed by all the perspectives and sharing that round out the ideas I try to share.

  33. Oh Marylin, being kind is number one on my list, absolutely. You are one of the kindest people I know, so this post is no surprise. My mother taught me the importance of being kind and I hope to have taught my children the same. As with your hubby, kindness from mine won the day too. Kindness is something we all need and it doesn’t cost a penny. Thank you so much for the kindness you have shown me dear friend. Hope you had a beautiful Valentine’s weekend 🙂

    • Aw, you are so sweet, Sherri. Thank you.
      I did have a beautiful Valentine’s Day, and I hope you did, too. I’m still smiling at your Flash Fiction post that reminded me of the fried mush dinners my mom used to make. You have a knack for nudging so many memories alive!

      • Oh I’m so glad Mayline, and yes I did too, thank you 🙂 And I’m still smiling at the thought of your fried mush dinners too…just wonderful! It’s great sharing such precious memories isn’t it? Have a great rest of the week dear friend 🙂

  34. A lovely post for Valentine’s Day. Another blogger I follow wrote an interesting post the other day on eggs and kindness. https://realruth.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/excellent-eggs/ Apparently eating eggs can make us kinder. 🙂 So maybe we should ditch the chocolate, give our sweethearts an egg. Unless of course they are allergic to them. 😦

  35. Jane Thorne

    A lovely post Marylin and yes, loving kindness is a language that warms. ❤ Much love flowing to you all in Colorado and to your lovely Mum in Kansas…love knows no distance. ❤

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