If joy had a face, it would look like Valerie Christine Pierson. Born 34 years ago today, she came into my life when I answered a personals ad written by her dad. From day one she wiggled and giggled her way into my heart, and has never left.
I’m not sure I’ve ever met a more generous human being in my life. If Val has it to give, she will. Whatever it is. Her time. Her talent. Her listening ear and her caring heart. If there is one story that captures the essence of this beautiful woman I get to call one of my daughters it is this one. Heading home from New Jersey after her Granddad’s memorial service, Valerie, Tom, and I were sitting in one of those dark airport restaurants where other weary travelers gather while waiting for their flights home. While I was focused on my burger and glass of wine, Val spotted two women sitting at a nearby table, heads close together, tears streaming down their faces. She didn’t know why they were sad and in pain, only that they were. Val quietly got up from the table, went up to the bar, paid for their lunch, and then as if it were the most natural thing in the world to buy a meal for two strangers, returned to our table. Only as the women were leaving the restaurant did the whole story come out. They were mother and daughter and had just lost their father and grandfather. Val’s kindness was just the balm their two broken hearts needed to remind them that even in the midst of loss and grief there is love and grace to be found, often through the kindness of strangers.
She is a mama bear to her Jonah-bear and I dare you to find a more fiercely loving mom anywhere. They share a love of the Portland Trailblazers, their new family addition, Comet-the-dog, and doing almost anything together.
I’ve never known a happier spirit. Come what may, somehow Val is able to find the silver-lining in almost any situation. Once during a particularly challenging time, when most people would go down with the ship, I suggested she come up with a mantra that she could say when things got tough. She didn’t miss a beat. "Things could be worse.” she said with a smile. At first blush, that didn’t strike me as an especially useful thing to say. But the more I thought about it, that is Val to a T. No matter how hard things are, she knows that others have it far worse and will do her best to make life better for anyone within her reach.
Val has a faith in the God who loves everyone regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, or where they come from. She has the husky voice of a rock-n-roll angel, loves everything glitz and glamour, and is a down-home family girl at heart.
I have no idea where life will take this bright and shining star of mine next, but wherever she goes and whomever she meets, they will be the better for it.
Happy birthday Val.
You are one in a million!