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Sabadosa: Making every day Valentine’s Day

Ryte Al Kilikeviciene  owners Rito's Coffee Hometown.

Ryte and Al Kilikeviciene, owners of Rito's Coffee in Hometown.

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Updated: March 25, 2013 6:14AM



On Feb. 14, we observed the annual “holiday of lovers” known as Valentine’s Day. When you think of Valentine’s Day, you picture red roses, foil hearts, conversation heart candies and Valentine cards.

History tells us that this day is named for St. Valentine, who was a priest in Rome and was executed by Emperor Claudius II on Feb. 14, 278 A.D. Not a very romantic story.

Why was St. Valentine killed? It’s said that Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome because he believed many Roman men were not willing to join the army because of their strong attachments to their wives and families.

St. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to marry young lovers in secret. Upon discovery of his disobedience, he was jailed and later beheaded.

Legend says that while jailed, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter and signed it, “From your Valentine.” The rest, as they say, is history.

On Valentine’s Day, I asked my readers to share their plans with me via email, Facebook and my blog (rsabadosa.wordpress.com).

Jim and Connie Sieferman celebrated the 34th anniversary of their engagement over a heart-shaped pizza at Monical’s in Avon, Ind.

Pat Shepard kept her husband surprised with snacks “throughout the day with little notes attached.” Pat and John are going on 25 years of marriage and she exclaimed, “He’s still my Valentine!”

Kim Dearth and her family “get a kick out of the White Castle tradition with the reservations, checkered tablecloths and photos by the heart.” She went on to say, “when you are surrounded by loved ones, that is all that matters.”

Carlo D’Amico shared that in past years, he and his wife Edda had always visited with, and wished a happy birthday to, one of his dear friends, Paul, with whom he spent 10 months in Korea during World War II. But D’Amico said Paul passed away a few years ago, “so today for his birthday I instead visited his grave and said a prayer. It was the best I could do for my friend whom I loved like a brother.”

Enza Piech said this year’s Valentine’s Day had an even greater meaning for her because it came at the start of the Lenten season. Her plan was to go out of her way to help someone less fortunate. She feels it benefits not only the recipient but the giver as well.

Because my husband and I postponed our Valentine’s Day plans until the weekend, I went to Rito’s Coffee in Hometown to check out their Valentine’s Party, which happened to fall on the same day as their monthly open stage event.

By 6:30 p.m., Sharon Quigley and Willie Parks were busy preparing for the evening — getting the stage set up and testing the sound system. Quigley and Debbie Parks are the organizers for Rito’s “open mic” event on the second Thursday of the month, beginning at 7 p.m.

The night was replete with great music, food and ambiance. Quigley said it was the “best Lithuanian food we have ever had.”

Be sure to check out the video from some of the past “open mic” performances at www.ritoscoffee.com. The $5 cover charge is waived if you order food.

During the evening, I talked to some of the patrons who chose Rito’s as their Valentine’s Day destination. Mary Lyons and her mom said it was the first time they had dined there, and they were very pleased with their experience.

Lisa and Greg Espinosa enjoyed dinner, saying they were repeat customers who were there because they “love the food and love Ryte and her husband.”

Al Kilikevicius and Ryte Kilikeviciene are the owners and hosts of Rito’s Coffee. They have been at this Hometown location for a little more than a year. Valentine’s Day also was Al’s birthday, which seemed to make the evening even more special.

Ryte raved about the group who makes “open mic” possible every month. She said the musicians who perform there are “amazing” and Debbie Parks, in particular, “lights up the coffee shop.” Debbie, a music teacher who is married to Willie Parks, is a cancer survivor, and Ryte is convinced that her singing has the ability to heal.

We know that Valentine’s Day is just one day of the year, and a good excuse for all of us to be reminded of how much we love and are loved. Let’s keep the feeling going strong all year long.

I couldn’t help but recall the last part of the song “My Funny Valentine,” which says, “Stay, little valentine, stay! Each day is Valentine’s Day.”

News from our neighbors

From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 2, at St. Germaine’s Goedert Hall, Joe Paprocki, local author and speaker, will share insights from his book, “Living the Mass: How One Hour a Week Can Change Your Life.”

Enter the hall via the church parking lot doors located at 98th Street and Kolin Avenue. The session is free and includes a light breakfast. To register, call Carol Conway at (708) 636-5060.



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