Let me say before I go any further that I had every intention of going back on active duty with the U.S. Army, during that Valentine’s Day 1998 weekend.
I’d come off of active duty and was in the National Guard, a lateral transition carried out fairly frequently by chaplains, and had decided that it was time to go back and see where I could get orders for.
I hoped it would be Alaska or Germany.
I hadn’t yet seen Alaska or Germany. It wasn’t because I didn’t like being on active duty; I actually loved it. For one thing, you never had to make a big decision about what you would wear in the morning. For another, you got paid a healthy salary to run around in the woods, which I have always liked to do anyway. I’d gotten to see some interesting places, and I felt that what I was doing was a positive thing.
I’d agreed to do a home wedding on Valentine’s Day, and thus began the changes which would impact the rest of my life. This woman came in, with shoulder length blond hair, dressed in a blue dress and blue stockings, and that entrance set in motion a chain of events which finds me, this Valentine’s Day, married to the love of my life.
This was not love at first sight, if that’s where you think I am going. It was, however, the beginning of a friendship that developed such that, by late April, when I had to make some choices, those choices were made with one and a half eyes toward staying close to here, seeing how this would develop.
By November of that year, it had developed far enough that Kathi and Don David, while on a trip to Albuquerque, picked up for me the engagement ring I had ordered so I could formally propose in the rose garden at Sacred Heart Church, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
No, we didn’t get married on Valentine’s Day. It would have been too soon; there seemed no reason, on the other hand, to wait until 2000. Anyway, June is perfect for schoolteachers, because it is the beginning of long summer break.
There was, however, another wedding on this Valentine’s Day, which is the second of only two which I have performed.
Commitment makes love grow stronger, in the wake of and the face of changes. Cancer for one of us, thyroid disease for the other, several loved ones’ deaths, life and changes, prove beyond a doubt that you will be there; when the going gets tough, the tough don’t get going, they stay right beside you.
You don’t spend as much as you formerly did for her Valentine present; instead, you spend that same amount on behalf of your granddaughter so she can get her Nana, her hero, the amazing present that she wants so much to give her.
Your love does not fade; it grows, even as other obligations, product of your journey together, like the aforementioned granddaughter, become a part of the whole.
It is all a part of what you build together, whether it starts on Valentine weekend, or not.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis High School. He can be contacted at: