Unconventional Valentine

February 17th

Sweet Colorado

I spent the last four days in Steamboat Springs. Initially, the trip was planned because my friends from Mozambique would be there to ski, and we were going to meet to plan a trip down the Zambezi River this summer. A generous donor to the nonprofit where I work has a home in Steamboat. His family was coordinating a weekend of revelry to celebrate the African’s visit. It seemed as soon as I hit the “confirm for purchase” button on the airline web site, everyone else in the group canceled. A family emergency kept my African friends in Mozambique. My Phoenix friends had last-minute change in plans. My brother had a conflict of interest with work; my dad was flying in from Texas to help him in Denver with this project and darn it if I wouldn’t be able to see them either.

Mother Nature can't be rivaled

All of a sudden it was me and the donor — a sweet 78-year-old man who I’ve known for years. He called to graciously give me an out. I no longer needed to come if I didn’t want to. Thankfully, I could hear a bit of an edge in his voice and when I reassured him that my ticket was booked, the vacation time approved and I even bought a cute new winter vest at Target, I could hear him sigh with relief. He was so pleased I was still coming, even though to add to this recipe for awkwardness, I was arriving bright and early Valentine’s morning.


S picked me up and gave me a big hug. We quickly caught up on his latest travels (Africa, Brazil) and his plans for the weekend. We would be spending the first day in the city and then going up to Steamboat. I knew his wife had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for several years. I did not know that Valentine’s Day was her birthday. I met B before she became ill and I’ve watched S suffer since. He truly misses his best friend — the woman he married 55 years ago, with whom he had five children.
After lunch we drove to the care facility. I waited in the lobby as he visited with his sweetheart, emerging an hour later with tears in his eyes.


I have never been so certain I was supposed to be exactly where I was as at that moment. He needed my hug and friendship that day as much I needed the reminder of the possibility of such love. A sweet day indeed.


Posted in
Journal, Travel
Follow the comments.

30 Responses

  1. What you did for your friend will never be forgotten. What a poignant and beautiful weekend you must have had. Thank you for sharing a little bit of it with us, Kelli. The photos are breathtaking…

  2. Oh Kelli! What a rare and (bitter)sweet moment. And yes, the photos are a lovely counterpoint.

  3. kelli, that’s just beautiful. thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. You’re such a wonderful friend. 🙂

  5. Bless your heart, Kelli, for spending this time with him, especially considering the poignancy of Valentine’s Day for him. My heart hurts for his wife as well as him; bless them, too.

  6. A wonderful time to be there, to celebrate the true meaning of Valentine’s Day, not the commercial side of it, but the deepest one, the blessing to have someone to love. Considering my own experience with Alzheimer, my heart is with your friends.

  7. Thanks for sharing this…it made my day!

  8. …it could be the pregnancy hormones, but I think my heart just broke a little bit. What a bittersweet story. Yet, I’m so glad you were there…

  9. Miss Kelli, you are amazing. I am so glad you were there for him. Alzheimer’s is such a hard thing for everyone involved and you helped cheer up his day.

  10. I think this has been one of my favorite posts of yours since I have been reading your blog. Love comes in many different forms and you showed such love for this man. You are a good lady.

  11. very sweet valentine indeed…

    you, my dear, are a most lovely and gracious woman….

  12. What a beautiful and touching story Kelli. I once heard that life will take us exactly where we are supposed to be if we would just let it. They compared it to allowing the river’s current to guide us instead of always trying to swim upstream. Somewhere in your heart or conscious, you knew exactly where you were supposed to be this past weekend, and you let it take you there. I pray for peace and comfort for your new friend.

  13. My prayer is that your future love is getting the same positive messages and reassurances. I hope he realizes that some day he is getting real jewel!

  14. what a great story. my friend used to live in steamboat springs, i’ve heard its beautiful there!

  15. What a memorable Valentine’s Day. While many scrambled around you to move through the Valentine motions who got to experience the true wonders of a special day. Thank you for sharing.

  16. good post.

  17. Wow – choked up a little on that one. Good for you – being there for someone right when they needed you. You have a big heart, Kell – and it’s being put to good use.

    Plus, such pretty photos. I loved the snow there. It’s a really beautiful place.

  18. Sad, yet sweet & touching Kelli. From your stories, you radiate kindness wherever you go.

  19. Thank you for sharing that story it was great. Those pictures look like they were taken off my back porch.

  20. this is such a beautiful post… the story brought tears to my eyes.

  21. God works in mysterious ways, yes? Lovely post, lovely pix, lovely woman. 🙂

  22. that story gave me goosebumps. its amazing how god puts us right where he needs us isn’t it?

  23. That is such a sweet story, and it is so good that you could be there for him and to be reminded that one is not supposed to settle for less than that. I am happy I didn’t.

  24. Larissa Stretton February 18, 2008

    Oh Kelli…..

    Thank you for sharing that story and for being there for S. What a story.


  25. beautiful words and pictures.

  26. You are awesome and those pictures are awesome too. Thanks for sharing the highlights of your weekend!

  27. Kelli, out of all the wonderful things that you do, this was probably one of the best. Bless you for being their for your friend.

  28. It sounds like a lovely weekend for you both.

  29. I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.