If there is one term of endearment that will always bring a rush of warm memories of my mom, it is what she called my brother Rick and me all our lives: sweetheart.

This will be our third Valentine’s Day without her, but certainly not without her spirit.
As a little boy, I would say “Balentine” instead of Valentine and from then on, we’d laugh when she asked, “Will you be my Baaalentine?!”

For as long as we can remember, Rick and I would receive an anonymous card in the mail each year, postmarked “Valentine, Texas.”

It would be decades before we realized they were sent by the one who loved us most!
When I was 10 years old, I entered my first radio contest, with Mom’s help.

Every afternoon, the host on WOAI Radio would chat with a listener, (an adult listener) asking them to talk about themselves and then awarding a prize, usually movie passes.

I wanted those tickets.

It seemed like every time I tried to dial in, the line was busy.

Until, one day, it rang.
I quickly handed the phone to my mom.

She looked at me and said, “Sweetheart, I don’t know what to say!”

“Don’t worry mom, just answer the questions.”

And so, my mom made her radio debut as her sweet voice filled the airwaves across South Texas. As the conversation ended, Mom was asked to share her favorite song.

“Stardust by Nat King Cole,” she softly replied.

She was given the passes, said goodbye and the song began to play.

“Thanks Mom! You were great!”

“You’re welcome, sweetheart.”Little did she know that this would be the first of many future broadcast appearances, on my radio shows, both here in San Antonio and in Los Angeles, as I would often share, with listeners, our conversations on special occasions, including her birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas and yes, Valentine’s Day.

Each of those calls would end the same way.

“I love you mom.”

“I love you, too, sweetheart!”

Sonny Melendrez is an award-winning motivational speaker, Hall of Fame radio/TV host and author, based in San Antonio. For more of his enthusiastic brand of inspiration and speaking information, visit official site: SonnyMelendrez.com or email: sonny@sonnymelendrez.com.