Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sixty-one Year Old Valentine (Susan Woodward)

This is the second of three entries by my dear friend, Susan Woodward. Susan was my high school administrator when I moved to Houston and served as editor of the book I authored. She is a world class educator, a terrific writer, and a wonderful sister in Christ. Continued prayers for me in Vietnam, please!

One of the great gifts that God gives us in this lifetime is friends.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have good return for their work.  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him.”  John 15: 12-13, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his own life for his friends.”  Our family was blessed at Valentine’s Day in February, 2015, when a talented reporter from KHOU-Channel 11, CBS in Houston named, Kevin Reece came to our home and told the story of my Mom and her dearest friends in Michigan.  This is a treasured story to our family with remarkable content and meaning.  Their friendship has spanned over 60 years and is ever strong now.  Their pictures from back in 1954 are above along with the words, “I looked up to the heavens, smiled, and said, “Thank you God.  I know these precious friends are from you.’”  Here is their story…..
A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. This is the story of a true friendship that has lasted for decades and continues to grow and be a rich blessing for an 84-year-old widow in Texas and her dearest friends, indeed family, in Michigan along with a 60-year-old Valentine card.
Mary and Pete Woodward were married in December of 1954 in Nashville, Arkansas.  Both were only children and Mary was the adored daughter of not only her parents but of her entire hometown – Nashville. But she was a newlywed so away they went and despite anxiety, hope and anticipation prevailed.
Mary and Pete arrived in Saline, Michigan in late December 1954. They began to adjust to being recently wed and to being in a new place so far from home.  Part of the adjustment was facilitated and blessed by friends who absolutely became as family, the Carpentier’s that Pete had met through working with Gene. Their friendship began to grow and it became an important aspect of their lives then and now – they were (are) undeniably family.
Joan and Gene Carpentier are remarkable.  They had already started their family and Mary and Pete loved their children like their own. Joan and Gene were strictly family oriented and opening their family to Mary and Pete was seemingly “meant to be.”  Each part of the friendship equation needed the other!
Mary and Pete and Joan and Gene enjoyed being together.  They shared important moments in their lives.  They knew how to laugh and have a good time, too.  Practical jokes became a fun and somewhat expected event!  On Valentine’s Day, 1955, Mary and Pete purchased a Hallmark card for 25 cents to send to Joan and Gene for Valentine’s Day.  They decided to make it fun.  They would send the card without signing it!  Make them wonder!  Then it occurred to them to make it even more fun!  Change the postmark.  Coming from Saline might give them away.  So they sent the card to a friend in Texas and had them send the unsigned Valentine to Joan and Gene.  That way the postmark would be from Texas and Joan and Gene did not know anyone in Texas.  Well, it worked… almost drove Joan and Gene crazy trying to figure out who sent the Valentine and  finally Mary and Pete had to admit to sending it!  Joan and Gene decided to have the last laugh and they saved the same exact Valentine card and on Valentine’s Day the next year, they sent the card to Joan’s sister who was a nun at the Vatican and had her mail it to Mary and Pete.  The exact card….still unsigned.  Imagine receiving it with a postmark from the Vatican! Sixty years later, that same exact 25₵ Valentine has been crossing in the mail between the two families each year.  You should see the card! It has held up, yet as any 60 year old, it is showing some age.    They don’t try to be creative with the postmarks anymore, but it is still unsigned, expected, anticipated and cherished.  
Mary and Pete were later transferred back to Arkansas and then on to Texas which has been home for over 50 years.  True friends stick together and never really say goodbye.”  That is so true.  Pete passed away in 1995 and Joan and Gene have been there for Mary across the miles unconditionally since then just as they were before his death. In 2013, Joan and Gene lost a son and Mary was there for them across the miles.
Joan and Gene have the Valentine and will send it to Mary in 2016.  It will be the 61st time it goes through the mail, still unsigned, but oh, so familiar and prized. One of the great gifts God gives us in this life is friends.  He will always bring people into our lives to stand with us.  Yes, some friends we will feel abandoned by and forgotten, but that is not of God.  Real friends are there in our time of need, and we give each other the opportunity to serve the Lord therein.  Let is also remember what a friend we have in Jesus.  God did not mean for us to be alone.  God has given us friends.  Make new friends.  Renew friendships….forgive.  Treasure old friends.  And thank God for his undeserved friendship through Jesus.  

If you would like to see the news segment that Mr. Reece did of this story for CBS/Channel 11-Houston, here is the YouTube link to copy and paste: Or, you can go to the KHOU website and enter, 60-Year old Valentine.

God bless, Steve Luke 18:1
www.hawleybooks,com E-mail me at

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