Valentine’s Day was approaching—and I was spending it in the hospital. A case of the flu had turned in to acute bronchitis, and I found myself celebrating the holiday as a patient at Trinity Lutheran Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.
My 16-year-old roommate helped the time go faster. With just a few years difference in our ages, we managed to solve all the world’s great problems concerning politics, religion, education, etiquette, and, of course, men.
We also spent many hours planning for her overseas trip she hoped to take three months later. We hung up signs around the room reading, “From Enemas to Europe,” “From Bedpans to Belgium,” etc.
One thing I didn’t plan on, however, was leaving the hospital with a ring on my left hand. But, as they say, one thing leads to another, and it was on Valentine’s Day, 1960, that my life changed for the better.
“I have a friend I want you to meet,” a coworker who lived in my apartment house said to me one day. “His name is Gary Goodrich. He’s from my hometown and went to the church my dad pastored. He’s here in seminary now.”
“I’ll meet him,” I told her, “but tell him I don’t want to get serious.” The guy I had been dating was now in the Army and had called me a couple of weeks before to tell me he wanted to date my roommate. While our relationship never went beyond the friendship stage, still I wasn’t ready to start dating again.
A week or so later this same girl knocked on my door saying Gary was downstairs looking for someone to type a term paper. She didn’t type, so came up to ask me. I refused at first because I had the flu. But she talked me into it.
A week later Gary picked up the paper and asked me to go to church with him the next day—the last Sunday in January. We dated for two weeks. Then when the flu worsened, I ended up in the hospital—and went home with a diamond—three weeks after we met. Friends have asked me how he proposed. He didn’t! He just said, “We better not tell anyone yet. It’s been too soon.”
“Tell anyone what?” I said.
“That we’re getting married.”
(By the time my friend remembered to tell him I didn’t want to get serious, we were already engaged.)
This Valentine’s Day we’ll celebrate the 55th year of that special occasion—when that wonderful guy I didn’t want to get serious with gave me the Valentine’s gift I’ll never forget. It’s like my mother always said, “Sometimes God takes away the good to give us the best.” And I have the best!