MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many of us take time to celebrate love during the month of February but one Minnesota couple sees to it that love is still celebrated even after a heartbreaking loss.
The Schumacher’s own love story is impressive enough but what they do each Valentine’s Day touches an entire town.
In the middle of a bitter winter, it’s a day that’s filled an old farmhouse with sweet memories.
“I don’t think we’ve ever missed a time where we didn’t do a Valentine,” Sylvan Schumacher said.
A couple still struck by cupid’s arrow. An innocent crush that lead to a lifetime.
“I saw him first before he saw me,” Donna Schumacher said.
“It’s been a long time but it’s been good,” Sylvan added.
The Schumacher’s have shared 52 years together. Six girls, one boy and 20 grandchildren later, it’s a so-called greeting-card holiday that might best show the true make-up of their hearts.
“The older I get the more I see it. If you make someone else happy, you’re happy,” Sylvan said.
It’s why for 13 years, Donna and Sylvan have decided not to spend a quiet night out together. They opt instead for a small school bus to begin their Valentine’s tradition.
“She’s pretty lonely. It’s hard to get used to being alone,” Sylvan said.
Offering a break from solitude to each passenger they pick up.
“When my husband died Don and Sylvee were always there for me. Always,” Dorothy Lax said.
It has become the way these widows still celebrate. Sticking to a scrawled out schedule that had them making 13 stops.
“The round trip is 92 miles, I think,” Sylvan said.
There’s only one spot in Sleepy Eye large enough to host a party their size. They head to the Orchid Inn each year and, private enough for Sylvan’s sense of humor.
He starts the night with a joke.
“Aging is like frying bacon in the nude. You know it’s going to hurt but you don’t know where,” he said.
It will cost the Schumacher’s more than $600 to do all of this each year. But a homemade touch is what the women treasure most.
“What I did this year is I tried to write down some memories of your Valentine,” Sylvan said, as he handed out a book of poems to each woman.
Bernice Lugewig is here for the first time. She read her personalized poem out loud.
“Leo loved baseball and bowling at the lane but his one true love was Bernice, his one and only flame,” she said.
This helps a lot, she added.
“Very much so,” Bernice said.
Now, joining a group that women don’t wish to be a part of but one made a little easier each Valentine’s Day because of two open hearts.
Most women are members of the Schumacher’s Catholic church in Leavenworth. For the past few years, an anonymous donor has helped cover some of the cost for the annual Valentine’s Dinner.