What good is Valentines Day without your one-and-only? Nate loved pampering me and never arrived at February 14 without a gift, chocolates, flowers, maybe a heart necklace. He always did a good job of making me feel loved.
This afternoon as I got teary, I put Nate’s wedding ring on a heart necklace and asked Jack if he wanted to go for a walk. The 54 degree weather was working on neighborhood snow drifts, and the air felt like spring. We hiked to the beach, a feast for the eyes in any kind of weather.
As the two of us surveyed the shoreline from the dune, appreciating the mountains of ice and deep drifts of snow, God gave me an idea to do something I haven’t done in my 65 years: make a beach snowman. Warm weather and dense snow made for perfect packing, and my three snowballs were rolled in no time. Because of wild winds, part of the sand had been scoured clean of snow, exposing smooth beach stones just right for snowman features and buttons. A bit of dried dune grass flew by, ideal for hair. I felt like a kid who’d gone out to play, and the sadness of the afternoon lifted.
As we left the beach, I remembered a Valentines Day snowman-extravaganza we orchestrated in the late ‘80’s. Mary and I, with the 12 children we then had, drove to our folks’ home in Wilmette well past the kids’ bedtimes. Our mission was to build snow people representing each of them, including props of their choice. We hoped to line them up on the front lawn facing Mom and Dad’s kitchen window. When they raised the shade on Valentines morning, they’d see 13 snowmen (one for my brother’s baby, too) looking back at them.
The kids got into the furtive nature of our special gift, keeping their voices low as they worked, the older ones helping the younger. When Dad surprised us all by driving around the corner and sweeping the yard with his headlights, they all dove for the ground.
After the snowmen were assembled, we propped up a big red sign that said, “Happy Valentines Day!” and sped away, successfully undetected. The surprise had the impact we’d hoped, and eventually the fun grew to include a couple of school field trips and one newspaper article, complete with photo. Long after spring had arrived, Mom and Dad were still talking about their 13 snow-kids.
This afternoon as the sun was setting, Jack and I walked home from the beach, concluding that Valentines Day isn’t only about sweethearts. God was sweet to me today, showing his love by putting an end to my grey mood with a simple white snowman.
“I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:7,14,15)