My husband and I celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary last June in my Amsterdam hospital room. The dietician ordered up a special lunch for the occasion — pannenkoek, Dutch pancakes. And Ray brought me flowers. He has always brought me flowers, and I am surprised and delighted every time.

The day before Valentinés Day he bought me this bouquet, saying that every day with me is Valentine’s Day. Aww.

There is something about surviving that makes you live with your husband as if every day IS Valentinés Day. Survival was a choice I got to make, and it turns out that I am a very determined woman. So, herés the card Ray chose for me.

Yeah, you don’t get from bedridden to jogging without a little bit of determination. And herés our new project. His name is Kumba. He is a four year old black Lab rescue brought from Puerto Rico to our area by Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida.

Wéve been co-habitting for two weeks now and feel that we’ve been our new family for much longer. He is very sweet and trusting and calm. Considering all he’s been through, that’s amazing.

He must have been well-treated for most of his life, but he was relinquished to a shelter in Puerto Rico last fall by his owner who was leaving the island. We figure he was in the shelter for a couple of months until he was tapped by the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida. He was flown here in mid-December.

He was dangerously anemic, probably from a tick bite, and very thin when he arrived. The LRRoF doctor was amazed that he could even stand up. Before he could be cared for by one of the LRRoF fosters, he had to be hospitalized for about a week. He rallied, moved in with his foster mom, Kim, and continued to grow healthier.

I’m pretty sure he’s got the best mattress in the house!

His immediate reward was more medical intervention — being neutered — but son of a gun if he didn’t keep being the sweetest dog at the vet’s. When we met him one month ago today, he was still recovering from that surgery. He needed another two weeks before he could come home with us.

Can you see my Palm Tree Socks on the chair behind Ray and Kumba?

Kumba is one hell of a beautiful dog with an unstoppable will. Guess it’s in our genes.

I guess you could say that Kumba and I have been re-born, like the orchids I attached to the palm trees in my back yard one year ago. They were blooming when I put them there but not when I returned from Amsterdam. Although their roots were clearly affixed to the trees, the plants started looking worse and worse, and one recently lost all its leaves.

And then, this happened.

From now on, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to gaze in wonder at the power of Life. To appreciate the opportunity for daily re-birth. To know how lucky we are to be here.

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