By John Rezell
Each Valentine’s Day I’m reminded of the best February 14th present I ever handed out.
Oh, it had nothing to do with chocolates or flowers.
It had everything to do with affairs of the heart.
Only a few months into my role as outdoor columnist for The Register-Guard newspaper in Eugene, OR, I wrote a column on using February 14th to remind everyone that the best gift you could give anyone in your life is to keep your own heart strong, healthy and ready to live a long, enjoyable life.
I wrote the column and then, of course, went on a hike. I received a few nice notes about it, and it pretty much slipped off my radar.
A little over a year later, I received a letter from a reader. She literally took my column to heart.
She said when she read it that Valentine morning it hit her hard. She used to love hiking and being very active outdoors. Somewhere along the line, life got in the way of that.
So, she cut out that column and placed it on the refrigerator door. Then she began hiking up Spencer’s Butte, a local hiking trail with a challenging climb to the top. She did it religiously, nearly every day for a year.
She wrote me a year later to say thank you. She shed a significant amount of weight, started eating healthier and, more important than anything, she felt good about herself again.
We went on a hike together to celebrate. I took her to one of my favorite waterfalls. Without question, it is one of my best hiking memories.
When you have the honor of writing for an audience, you never quite know who is listening or why. But every once in a while, you get to listen to a heart-warming story that makes you day.
Or, in my case, makes every Valentine’s Day just a bit more special.