She sat up in bed and looked around. Outside, a slight gust of wind kissed the side of her home and waltzed down the valley. Jo Ann shook her head. She knew she’d heard her name. It had been nothing more than a whisper. It was probably her imagination, but then, there is was again, “Joni.”
Jo Ann rose, donned her robe and walked to her window. It was a cold Valentines Day morning. The showed it was 3am; frost glistened on the roof of the garage and on the lawn down below. Through the window of the garage there was a light which at first, was a concern to her but then, very faintly, she heard… music?
I Love, I Love, I Love my calendar girl
Yeah, sweet calendar girl.
I Love, I Love, I love my calendar girl
Each and every day of the year.
January, you start the year of fine
February, You’re my little valentine
She hurried down the stairs, across the foyer, and into the garage. Her daily driver Tahoe was bathed in the glow of headlights from the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air parked in the rear of the garage. From the original radio, Neil Sedaka sang away.
Yeah, yeah, my hearts in a whirl
She looked at the Bel Air and remembered their first date. Romance isn’t forced, but like some beautiful creation, it is grown. Hot summer days as a newly married couple, they would chase the moon to the coast, then wander back inland and watch as the sun rose above the Cascades. She smiled as she remembered her oldest son as a toddler standing up in the front seat.
“Joni… It’s been a while my love.”
She cocked her head and sitting in the driver’s seat, she saw Con as a young man, smiling at her. Jo Ann hurried to the passenger side, opened the door and sat down. As she closed the door, she caught a glimpse of her own reflection in the side mirror and, to her amazement, she was young again! The song on the radio changed and Buddy Holly began to sing “Everyday.”
Suddenly, the outside world was bright and sunny. Con and she were chasing a back road through the Washington countryside. He nodded toward her and she scooted close to him. He put his arm around her, and she held his hand with hers. And so, it went as they rode along. No words; just being close and in the moment. Con smiled at her and pulled the ’57 to the side of the road.
“Joni, as beautiful as this Chevrolet is and has been to me, you’re still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever had in my life.” Happy Valentines Day, my love.” Con smiled at her, leaned in to get closer and was gone.
Jo Ann was alone in the Bel Air. On the radio, Johnny Ace sang…
Forever may darling our love will be true
Always and forever, I’ll love only you
Just promise me darling, your love in return
May this fire in my soul dear, forever burn
I love you too, Con. Happy Valentines Day.” She whispered. She switched of the radio, turned out the lights and exited the bright red ’57. Closing the door gently, she allowed her fingers to run gently across the side panel, her hand coming to rest on the rear fin for a moment. She closed her eyes and sighed before walking to the door of the garage. She turned off the lights in the garage and hoped for a ride again next year.
—Dedicated to Connie and Jo Ann Toedtli