Link to Grand Rapids Herald-Review
Wanda Moehler, the benevolent dictator (that is to say, the editor) of the Herald-Review tells us who will write a column for which issue. Somehow, my spot in the rotation seems to hit a lot of holidays. Here's my piece for Valentine's Day, 1999:

"The sun can break through the darkest cloud; love can brighten the gloomiest day."
-- William A. Ward

As some of you know, my wife and I spent a few days between Christmas and New Year's visiting my folks in California.

coffee grinder One day, Dad was puttering about the kitchen, moving things around until he uncovered an old-style coffee grinder. Visibly relieved at finding the contraption, Dad turned to me and explained: "The coffee grinder usually sits on the counter, But Betty [my mom] moved it to make room for the supper dishes. I never feel quite right when I don't see it there."

That coffee grinder is just a reproduction, not an antique. As I recall, it was purchased at Reed Drug, here in Grand Rapids.

To tell the whole story, I have to take you back 14 years... to Valentine's Day in 1985.

Our oldest son, Matt, was in the final stages of cardiac collapse after his nearly 20-year fight with Cystic fibrosis. We all knew that it was just a matter of days until the Lord would take Matt home. My folks flew here to be at Matt's side and help with the extra care his condition required.

On Valentine's Day, Matt emptied his savings account (he knew he wouldn't need it where he was going) and gave me a shopping list.

Here's how our daughter Anna - age 12 at the time - recorded the event:

"This day I will always remember. Matt threw a party... including heart-shaped pizzas with everything: sauce, cheese, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and spice. Matt carefully plotted this out with Dad. He bought Mom a box of chocolates and a tea kettle, and bought two amaryllis plants - one for her and one for my grandma and grandpa. He bought a silk rose in water for my mom, and got a coffee grinder and coffee beans for my grandma and grandpa... and a box of chocolates for the rest of us. We watched videos that night."

I recollect that we also almost overdosed on laughter that night.

Seven days later, Matt was dead.

For the rest of his days, that coffee grinder will be a constant reminder to my dad of that very special Valentine's Day... and of the love of a dying teen-ager for his grandparents.

"When I see that coffee grinder sitting there," my dad added, "it tells me that Matt's still alive."

...And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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   Coffee grinder photo © Bob Lemen, All Rights Reserved.