18 Valentine’s Days ago, I woke up to rain, but I was looking forward to the day of hearts and roses. It was my first Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend, Jon. I wondered what kind of flowers he would send, or where he’d take me for dinner.
The morning passed rather uneventfully. No call. No flowers. No date for lunch.
Harumph. All the other girls' desks are loaded with flowers, candy, cards, stuffed bears, tons of tokens of love from their sweeties.
Late in the afternoon, Jon shows up in my secure access area of work, but without flowers. I’m more than a little peeved -- (I still don't see any love tokens declaring his love for me!), but now I’m fretting about losing my job because he has somehow bypassed the acess card reader. Now he’s joking with my boss about letting me take the rest of the day off! Lo and behold, my stern, by the book, boss, says, “Sure.” But first, I’ll have to wear a blindfold.
Jon leads me out of the office building, and seats me in the car. The rain had stopped earlier in the day and the sun was out, I could feel the warmth on my face. After driving around for what seemed like forever, he finally came to a stop. We were at an ultralight air strip. We had discussed learning to fly these things, but now here I was for the moment of truth.
Well, okay. I can forgive him for not getting me flowers, but have you ever really seen an ultralight? It’s like a lawn chair tied to a kite with a box fan in the back. Seriously. You want me to go up in that, first?
The pilot, who looks a lot like Stephen King and adds an additional reason not to go up, takes me through learning the gauges. Jon did his homework. He knew this was going to be a little more difficult, so he convinced my co-worker Dana to drop hints and tell me how much fun ultralight aircrafts were!
Only room for two, so Jon sends me up first. Don’t forget these head phones, he adds. It’s noisy up there, he says, so here are the instructions in case you can’t hear the pilot. Okay, I think. This is getting exciting.
Stephen King takes me through the gauges and I halfway learn what they are used for. But the sun is getting low in the sky and we need to hustle. Within minutes we are soaring in the sky and it is absolutely gorgeous. It’s like flying. Wind is whipping your face, and oh, I can’t hear the pilot. I can’t hear the instructions in the earphones either. Oh, well. I’ll just enjoy the ride.
The sun starts setting in the west and a beautiful orange hue splays over the fields below. I see something on the ground and my first thought is how did that guy get so much shaving cream in the field. Oh, it spells something. Wait, it’s Jon. The message reads, “Marry Me!” and Jon is holding a large red heart as the bottom of the exclamation point. I love Valentine’s Day! All the pink and red hearts all day long now are quickly becoming a thing of the past. I no longer cared about flowers or candy or anything else. This was perfect.
Stephen King holds out two bandanas. A red one and green one. It’s Valentine’s Day and the red one is fitting for such a wonderful day! I make my selection and wave it proudly to Jon below as we make a low flying pass. In a moment Stephen yells at me and asks me if I’m really gonna say no. I’m confused. Why does he think I’m gonna say no?
He yanks the red bandana out of my hand and stuffs the green one in. “Oh,” I said. I guess it does make more sense that red means no and green means go! I drop the green one and it spirals down to the ground.
After we land, Jon is on bended knee with his grandmother’s wedding rings in hand and asks me to marry him. My heart melts and I gladly say yes.
Then the pilot says, “I’m glad you didn’t drop that red bandana.”
“Why,” I asked, wondering why he was so concerned.
“I didn’t tie a rock in it. I didn’t expect that you’d say no. If you had dropped it, it would have drifted into the propeller and we probably would have crashed.”
Hmmmmmmmmm. God was watching over me in more ways than one!
I didn’t get to hear the actual proposal in the air due to the loud propeller noise, but I did get to hear it when we landed on the ground. The headphones were plugged into a tape recorder with “Earth Angel” playing and followed by the sweetest proposal from Jon.
I’ve since forgotten what the gauges were and am grateful he didn’t really make me learn to fly an ultralight afterall! He still doesn’t do flowers or traditional expectations, and I’ve learned that it is perfectly all right!
Valentine’s Days ever since that one in 1992 always make my heart beat a little faster. And even though Jon is in Afghanistan this year, our hearts are still flying high. I had no idea that 18 years later, we’d still be having this much fun. We love doing the same things and we enjoy discovering new things together. So much to look forward to.