February 2016 Column Winner

A surprise Valentine
Brian Blansett, Tri-County Herald

Dianna liked yellow daffodils, so we planted a few dozen in remembrance the autumn after she died.
They’re mixed with some red tulips under an oak tree at the end of the driveway, kind of close to the creek.
Last year, they bloomed in mid-March and I noticed the other day that the shoots were a good four, maybe five inches tall.
Might bloom a little earlier this year, I thought.
She also liked red carnations and roses, but I planted daffodils because they bloom when there’s not much else in the world that’s colorful.
It’s nice to walk to the mailbox when they’re blooming and pause for a moment or two.
The blossoms seem to glow after the gray months of winter.
Sunday was Valentine’s Day, which tends to be just another day now.
Back in grade school, we had Valentine’s Day parties in class and we used to pay attention to see if one of the girls might give someone a little bigger Valentine or one with a longer note than the ones for everyone else.
Such is romance in the fifth grade.
I used to buy Dianna two Valentines every year. One would have meaningful verse and maybe some lace.
The other would be to make her laugh.
She would write a long note to me, sometimes in a Valentine and, after she got sick, sometimes on note paper that she put in a plain envelope.
I still have them.
A few years ago, we found the journal that daughter Brittany kept as a second grader when we dwelled among the Texans.
Dianna thought it was great reading until she got to February and read:
“My dad got my mom some candy in a red coffee cup that said ‘You little devil, you.’”
Dianna wanted to look up the long-forgotten teacher’s phone number and explain, but I convinced her that she probably hadn’t given it a second thought.
Sunday morning, I got up a little later than usual, fed the turkeys and got ready for church.
When I backed out and headed down the driveway, I had to stop and look twice.
Waving at me from under the oak tree – as if it had spontaneously burst into bloom – was a single bright, butter-yellow daffodil.
It was the best Valentine surprise ever.

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