It's early in the morning as I write this and my head is filled with memories of Saturday, February 14, 1976. It was my father's 50th birthday.
Our family had always celebrated Valentine's Day in a special way, probably because it was Dad's birthday, too, but my elementary school years were a time when we made Valentine Boxes out of discarded cigar boxes begged from the local mercantile. Covered with fancy paper, lacey cutouts made from doilies and sprinkled liberally with glitter, I'd never seen anything prettier.
And the joy of finding a Valentine in that box from every child in the class! Some were given more weight than others of course. To have a Valentine that read, "Will you be mine?", and signed by a cute - normally shy- little boy who sat two rows over was cause for days and days of sideways glances to try to figure out if he really meant it or if he was just filling out the cards as they came to the top of the stack. ( As far as I can remember, he was just signing the cards as they came up and putting them in envelopes without paying attention to the message on the card.)
The best cards were enclosed in lumpy envelopes. When the envelopes were opened, the lumps tumbled out and transformed into colorful chalky candy hearts inscribed with meaningful two or three word messages. "Love You"; "Be Mine", Yours 4 Ever".
But time passes and while many hearts are gladdened and filled with love, others are broken and on June 15, 1976, three days before her 45th birthday, my enthusiastic, fun-loving, playful, delightful mother succumbed to a long battle against breast cancer. I had known her time was limited, but had wanted to give her the ultimate gift of a grandchild before she died. When she passed away, I was one month pregnant and suddenly responsible ( in my mind) for not only a relatively new husband, but also for my younger brothers and my Dad.
My first doctor's appointment was on my Mom's birthday and to my great surprise, the doctor told me the baby was due on Valentine's Day - my Dad's birthday. I knew immediately that once again, God was working in my life in his own delightful way. I just love it that he has such a sense of humor!! Maybe it was too late for the baby to be a gift for my mother, but what a special 50th birthday present a baby would be for my Dad!
Sure enough, I never wavered for a moment in my belief that the baby would arrive when scheduled. Everyone else pooh-pahed the idea that the baby would be born on Valentine's Day - the due date. The family of my sister's boyfriend planned an engagement party for that Saturday night - even though I told them the baby was coming that day and we wouldn't be able to attend. (They never doubted me again...)
I woke early that Saturday morning - very much like this morning - and realized we needed to get on the road to Atlanta and the hospital. A very special little girl - named Anslyn, for my mother, Ann, and me, Lynda, arrived right on schedule that happy Valentine's afternoon.
Thirty-three years later, she continues to be a joy to all who know her and my Dad will tell you...he's never gotten a better birthday/Valentine's Day gift than he received on his 50th birthday.
So, Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours and may your heart be filled with love (and your mouth with Valentine's candy!)
If you ever find yourself in the beautiful mountain lakes region of northeast Georgia, give me a call. I'd love to show you around!