Valentine to Caregivers

Dorothea Mordan
4 min readFeb 4


Traditions come from somewhere.

Saint Valentine is a composite of historic religious figures that includes St. Valentine of Viterbo, St. Valentine of Raetia, and others who share martyrdom because of their beliefs. Their lifeworks, and stories have combined into the legendary St. Valentine, patron saint of such disparate areas as love, epilepsy and beekeeping. St. Valentine is thought to have been a priest and physician. In his life as an early Christian priest he married couples according to that faith. This was in the 3rd century, A.D. during the end of the Roman Empire, and so was against the laws of that time. As a physician, St. Valentine was said to have cured blindness, including that of a daughter of the jailer where he was held at the end of his life.

Changes in society’s tolerance, religious or otherwise, happen over long stretches of time. Christianity, once established, was just as capable of producing leaders who would martyr nonbelievers, as did the Roman Emperors who fed Christians to the lions. Social change has long inspired humans to kill. It was, and still is, bad behavior.

The almost 2000 years since St. Valentine’s death have delivered us a holiday to celebrate love and chocolate. The story of St. Valentine, though, is at its heart, the story of a caregiver. One reason his story persists is that we each need acceptance and understanding. What is more proof of that than having a day to celebrate your partner in love and life.

Caregivers have the same objective as the St. Valentines of the world — to shake up society, hoping to bring change for those in need. Whether it is medical, spiritual, or economic, the groups that inspire them are usually the under-served and forgotten. Consider if you need what the St. Valentines of the world do.

The impact that caregivers have, is an inspiration for cultural shift from “me” to “we”. A large amount of our current public political debate is centered on what is good in it for ME. Just by saying that private business/medical practice and our social structure and economy would be better than a social safety net organized by the government doesn’t make it so. The reverse is also true. The government, no matter how well-intentioned, cannot replace communities where people work together to solve problems. When we do not work together for improved quality of life for each other, we get more government intervention — like the intersection where one too many traffic fatalities happen. We ultimately agree to impose a traffic light and a speed limit. When we get too many bureaucratic details invading our everyday lives, we start mini revolts to give voice to our person grievances. Again, it is about ME.

Caregivers see an imbalance and take the pressure off where they can.

Some care giving is obvious. 24 hour nursing care for friends and loved ones who need specialized care. Mental health professionals helping any one of us with invisible traumas. Teachers. Each of us has been to school, and had to find our path to understanding the world we live in. Teachers show us how to look at life from different perspectives as we find our way. Counselors. Each of us has been the giver or receiver of bullying, peer pressure, misunderstanding. Counselors guide us to addressing the root of the problem, so we have a chance of solving it.

The support staff in our public school system give their all everyday to take care of our kids and back up our teachers in the front lines. Administrators, secretaries, school nurses, custodians, food service professionals, bus drivers — thank you Amy! — librarians, and everyone with a title I haven’t learned yet, are the daily first responders for our kids.

Some care giving is more subtle. Just as we each have things that make our blood boil at the mere mention of a different opinion, we each have the ability to take the energy out of empty arguments. An argument based solely on having an opposing opinion is pretty empty, but that’s just my opinion.

A thoughtful person with a full grocery cart sees you have few items and lets you go ahead.

The person who doesn’t lose patience with you when you are having a bad day, about to lose your own patience.

Each of these is an example of an impact on our daily quality of life that has the unsung attribute of costing zero while taking the pressure off of our shared public argument about private versus government order. A lot of what one can find annoying is rooted in how our well planned life is ruined by the social order around us. We each have opportunities to take the pressure off, to be Radar of the 4077th M*A*S*H.

There is no one size fits all solution to any human problem. Community-based or government-funded, we each do the best we can. Caregivers see us at our best and worst. They take care of us anyway. Let’s take care of them, and ourselves.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

Thank you for reading my story

In my day job, I restore family photographs. Each family story shows the importance of learning history and sharing stories. On Medium, I write about our human nature, my experiences, and episodes in our collective story. Part of my story is that I am a founding board member of Kitsune, Inc., 501c3 non-profit. We work on creative solutions for independent living for adults with developmental disabilities, but without an intellectual disability — our fellow citizens who fall through the cracks in our social safety net.
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