A Valentine’s Day Memory

finding blessing in disappointment

Posted by Nancy Lee on February 12, 2022

After my father passed away, my siblings and I made a point to reach out to my mother every Valentine's Day. I don’t remember my father being particularly demonstrative when it came to romance, but on Valentine’s Day, he would always buy my mother a box of Fanny Farmer’s white almond bark. It came in a fancy white box with “Fanny Farmer” written across it in gold foil cursive writing.  

I wish I could have continued the tradition of giving my mother those special boxes of candy, but the Fanny Farmer store went out of business shortly before my father passed away.

My Valentine’s Day routine remained the same for many years. I would stop over at my mother’s house, often with some of my children, bearing a small token gift—flowers, candies, or homemade chocolate-covered strawberries. She would look surprised and open the door to let us in. “Nancy, you didn’t have to do this!” she would say as her face lit up with a smile, then she would make tea, and we would chat and munch on candy hearts and peppermint patties from her candy dish.

When my mother moved out of her house and into an apartment in an independent living community, she began a new tradition. The managers of the community were well-attuned to the needs of their residents who were primarily women, most of whom were widowed. On Valentine's Day, their chef would host an elegant dinner with food that would rival the fanciest of restaurants. My mother loved these occasions.

In 2020, as soon as my mother opened the invitation to the Valentine’s Day dinner, she invited me to join her. “Look, Nancy, they are serving shrimp cocktail for an appetizer, prime rib for the main dish, and cheesecake with berries for dessert! Can I make you a reservation?”

“Of course, Mom,” I said, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Neither of us stated what we both knew. This would be her last Valentine’s Day. She had been diagnosed the previous August with brain cancer and was still functioning surprisingly well, well enough to go to the dining room and enjoy a fancy dinner.

I was looking forward to getting dressed up and joining her for one last formal dinner, but the unthinkable happened. I came down with a stomach virus. Not the 24-hour variety, the kind that lasted a few days.

My words, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” echoed in my mind as I weighed out whether or not I could make it to her special dinner. As the day approached and I was not better, I knew I had to come up with a different plan.

I called my daughter, Bethany. Bethany lived nearby and worked the night shift in the local hospital lab. She was happy to accompany her grandmother to her special dinner. “Maybe my stomach virus was His divine plan,” I thought. “How had I not realized that  I wasn’t the only one who would be blessed with spending time with my mother?”

I was with my mother often, but with Bethany’s busy work schedule, she had not been able to spend much time with her grandmother. My having to cancel allowed for a special grandmother/granddaughter evening, creating a cherished memory for Bethany.

Sometimes we can have the best of intentions, but we must bow out to make room for God to bless someone else.

This reminds me of the Bible story found in 2 Samuel 7:22 about King David when he wanted to build a magnificent Temple for God. God, through the prophet Nathan, told him that he would honor his wish, but David’s son Solomon would build the temple instead of David. We can all learn a lesson through David’s reaction.

How did David react in his disappointment? Did he become bitter? Angry? Jealous? Did he argue with God? Did he try to change his mind? He did none of these things. He humbly came before the Lord in praise, “Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Sam. 7:22 (ESV).

And he asks God to be with Solomon, “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God. . .” 1 Chron. 22:11 (ESV).

But David doesn’t stop there. David springs into action and does everything in his power to help set Solomon up for success.

“With great pains I have provided for the house of the Lord 100,000 talents of gold, a million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for there is so much of it; timber and stone, too, I have provided. . .” 1 Chron.22:14 (ESV). 

He then goes on the explain that he has also lined up an abundance of skilled workmen to help in the building of the temple.

“David also commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying, ‘Is not the Lord your God with you?… Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God…’” 1 Chron. 22:17-19 (ESV).        

I realize the disappointment of missing my mother’s last Valentine’s Dinner is not on the same level as missing out on building the temple for God. But as I sipped ginger ale and read Anne of Green Gables while my daughter dressed up and accompanied my mother to her special occasion, I felt grateful for the small part I was playing in God bringing my mother and daughter together for a treasured time of connection.