I entered the store shortly after dropping my mother off at the front door, only to find her in tears. She said she’d meet up with me by the flower section after I’d park the car, then go in and help with with her grocery list. There she was, standing next to the roses, holding a little red, handmade Valentine card. Her eyes grew large as she told me what had just happened.
A little girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old, had just walked up to her, locked eyes, then handed her the card. The little girl said, “Hello, I would like to give you this; it’s for you!” Her name was Harper. The little girl’s mother was standing close by, smiling. My mother graciously accepted the card, then asked Harper if she’d like to hear a fun Valentine story. Harper nodded, adding an excited “yes!”
Mom loved Valentine’s Day. She shared with Harper how she used to bake three-tiered heart-shaped cakes overspread with rich frosting sprinkled with red candy hearts, served with red punch for fun Valentine’s Day parties she’d create for my twin brother and me when we were very young. The event was always punctuated with presents; it was almost as elaborate as Christmas. It was almost looked forward to as much as Christmas. The more mom talked about the fun she had creating those fun parties for us kids, the more Harper responded with excitement. Her mother smiled knowingly. Maybe just then she was mentally planning a fun surprise Valentine’s Day party for Harper.
Mom looked down at the little handmade card Harper had just given her, carefully opening it as if someone had just handed her a fragile treasure. She looked inside and read these simple-but-profound words Harper had written herself: “I love you — Harper.” Mom was speechless. She had never seen this little girl before.
After talking with her for a few minutes, she turned to look for me, then turned back to where the little girl was — but she was gone.
Tears came freely as she told me what had just happened.
Mom still struggles with grief after my father passed away; they were married for 61 years. He died in her arms the day after Thanksgiving back in 2018. The untimely death of my twin brother followed nine months later; we were the only children they ever had. Standing by those flowers, she had been thinking about how she and dad used to go to this store, how dad would often pick out flowers for her. That’s when Harper showed up.
Sometimes angels come to us in the form of innocent little girls, or small children, to find us. They are like ministering spirits sent by God to bless, to heal and to encourage. In this case, it was all three. Mom felt singularly blessed to have been the recipient of such unconditional love. An affirmation that she was not alone, not forgotten; she was loved.
About the author: Phillip Haldaman is a former weekday morning host and producer for Interlochen Public Radio, a former police officer and retired U.S. Air Force commander. He currently serves special needs children and their families with the Charlevoix-Emmet ISD. He and his family reside in Elk Rapids.