Francis, a genial giant as big as a fairy tale, delivers packages and parcels in my part of town.
Francis must believe in parcels because his face always splits in a satisfied and cheerful grin when he deposits a brown paper package into my surprised arms.
I suspect he sees himself as a bringer of gifts and good things. I don't think he's wrong.
Francis hammered on my door last week. My sister-in-law had sent me a box of family ephemera.
Sitting on the living room floor, I ripped off the wrapping and opened the box -- and listened to the whispered voices from the past that rose up like dust motes in the late afternoon sun.
Old photographs, an autograph book, a box of vintage jewellery, a tarnished baby spoon, a fragile Christmas ornament that bore a story, invitations and programs, letters and cards to people long dead.
On the back of the valentine from some shy and anonymous suitor above is written in ink "From one who loves you Best of all," and a date "Feb 8, 1935."
The verse on the front reads:
This valentine is sent
With friendly wish and good intent
And greetings warm and kind
And if some loving thoughts should hide
Beneath the lace or way inside
I hope you will not mind.
My Valentine to each and every one of you.