Valentine's Day

I’m not usually particularly sappy. One time, a friend and I decided we would get rich quick by writing a romance novel. Those things sell like hotcakes, but our plan failed. We just couldn’t get past the first ripping bodice. Maybe we should have moved the protagonist out of the calving barn. Anyway, that manuscript sits in the reject pile.

But it’s the Week of Love and we’ve all been battling frigid temperatures so maybe a heartwarming story is just what we all need.

And boy do I have a heartwarming romance to share with you.

My brother, Roger, has been divorced for almost 15 years. Life seemed to swirl around him while he stood on the sidelines.

Roger has come to help me with ranch projects several times this the past year. Each time, he drives 800 miles from Oregon, spends a week or two, loses about 10 pounds and declares his love for north-central Montana.

After his October trip, he said he was even thinking about moving to Conrad. That would be great, but nothing happens fast around here so I wasn’t watching my ranch gate for a pickup packed to the hilt.

A couple of months later, I invited him to help with our community Christmas dinner.

Neither of us anticipated the unforeseen consequences of that invitation.

One early morning just before Christmas, Roger and I sat in the living room enjoying our coffee and talking about the things that matter in life. He said he was tired of watching the world go by. He had made up his mind act.

The next day, as we worked in the community center kitchen, Kit brought some sweet potato casserole and a pie to contribute to our cause.

Roger whispered to me: Who is that?

Me, being oblivious to human nature, didn’t notice the smile that crossed Roger’s face.

Later, Roger grabbed a plate of food and headed to a table. I intercepted him to ask if he would give other volunteers a break.

A few minutes later, Roger had pie in his hand, headed for the same table.

“Don’t ask me to do anything else. I’m going to sit next to Kit.”


Later that night, after the dishes were done and the parties were over, Roger wouldn’t leave his phone. While my daughter, Abby, and I basked in the halo of Christmas, Roger arranged a date.

The next day, Abby found a list of conversation starters on the internet and we waved Roger on his way.

Two weeks later, that pickup packed to the hilt pulled through my ranch gate. Roger was here to stay. Two weeks after that, he took Kit back to Oregon to move the rest of his stuff to Conrad and introduce her to our family.

This was a new era for me. For my entire adult life, my blood relatives have lived at least 800 miles away. All the secrets of my childhood were safe behind the effort it takes to overcome that distance. I had forgotten about those secrets until now that they might be shared.

Roger’s smile helped me get over myself.

Watching him was like watching a rerun of Bambi. He was twitterpated. Watching Roger and Kit together was Bambi 2.0. She told him he’s so strong and smart. His eyes twinkled as he stood a little taller.

Conrad’s IGA is the social center of town so it didn’t surprise me that Roger ran into a friend there.

My friend said “Stop smiling!”

“I can’t,” Roger replied, smiling.

The custom ring was ready last Tuesday.

She said yes.


From my ranch to yours, this is Lisa Schmidt. Happy Valentine’s Week. Keep smiling!

Lisa Schmidt