The Villages Voice - February 2020

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A Villager's View

by Jan Palmer

A Villager’s View by Jan Palmer   February nowadays is most noted for two things:  Valentine’s Day and Winter Break.   For seniors, that means we can finally afford to eat out at a nice restaurant, and, if we are lucky, our grand-kids will be coming to visit.  It is a month to celebrate and reflect on what “Love Is.” I am sure many of you remember the simple yet poignant cartoon series “Love Is”.  Packed away in my box of treasured memories are several clippings I saved from when I was a starry-eyed young woman engaged to be married to my boyfriend of five years.  We were only 20, but thought we were ready; and, surprisingly, we were. I learned a lot from those little cartoons, and think, after all these years, that it’s never too late to learn more about how to love well.  What I have come to realize and appreciate, is that what started out as a spark between a young man and woman, has matured and changed into a different kind of love.  It may not be expressed in the romantic mushiness of young love, but has evolved and multiplied to include children and grandchildren, and an unshakable bond. When you stop to think about, in its many forms and expressions, genuine love’s basic nature doesn’t change. Kim Casali was the creator of “Love Is,” and her simple sketches started out as love notes to her then-boyfriend.  Her real name was Marilyn Grove, and she was born in New Zealand.  It was Roberto Casali, her future husband, who saw the potential in her cartoons.  With his persistence and a friend with connections, they were first published in 1970 in The Los Angeles Time under her pen name.  Despite the success of the cartoon when it was syndicated, their own circumstances were far from ideal.  They had immigration issues in the U.S. and ended up back in New Zealand.  Then, after having two children, Roberto was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  In 1976, after only five years of marriage, he died, and Kim commissioned Bill Asprey to take over producing the daily cartoon.   Kim went on to make international headlines because she and Roberto had planned to have more children, and she did, through artificial insemination after his death.  It was quite the scandal back then.  Kim herself died in 1997 from bone and liver cancer,  but her legacy lives on in reminding us to continually ask ourselves what “Love Is” and to find ways to express it in our later years,  with our family, friends, and neighbors. As we head into February, I think Kim would want us to remember that “Love Is” felt through small gestures and thoughtfulness done with intention and attention.  It is remembering to breathe small breaths of fresh air into your relationships to keep the warm embers of love glowing.   Whether it is celebrating Valentine’s Day, or taking the grand-kids on a special outing when they are here, enjoy this month dedicated to reminding us that “Love Is” all we need.