Love is all you need

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“Love letters” can take many forms — handwritten, scented and postmarked. A small note tucked into a bouquet. An emoji-laced text message. A heart traced in the steam on the bathroom mirror.

Linda Butler was inspired to write her own kind of letter of love to her stepfather, Dave Maurer. After he and her mother had visited her in Ohio last Thanksgiving, Butler decided the best gift she could ever give her stepfather was a public declaration of her appreciation and admiration for him. She then composed a heartfelt letter to the man she describes as “kind, caring, considerate, loving and authentic — just a good man.”

Since the Maurers live in the Flathead Valley, she emailed her letter to the Inter Lake with the headline, “What do you give a wonderful man who needs or wants for nothing?” and inquired about possible publication.

Although Butler’s letter didn’t quite fit the bill as an opinion piece or letter to the editor, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are some of its highlights and a little bit of background about her folks. If you care to read the whole letter, you can find it on the Inter Lake’s website under the opinion tab.

Dave Maurer is a longtime resident and active member of the Somers community. He and Butler’s mother, Martha (Richardson) Maurer, first met at a church youth group back in 1952 in California right after Dave had completed his first year at West Point. (Serendipitously, they had also actually gone to the same church when they were little kids, though they didn’t know each other then.)

They dated for a time, however, their lives took them in different directions. They both married others and years passed. Dave’s wife, Toni, died in 2004 right after they had finished building a home in Somers. Martha and Butler’s father were married more than 50 years, until his passing in 2009.

“They were ‘youngsters’ in their 70s when they not only reconnected but rekindled embers,” Butler wrote about when Dave and Martha met again. Now in their 80s, the Maurers will celebrate their sixth anniversary this Valentine’s Day.

As she began writing her letter, Butler came up with many adjectives to describe her stepfather, ultimately arriving at the one she felt best describes him — integrity.

“I believe true integrity is the rarest, most valuable quality you can find in a person,” she said. “When Dave makes a commitment you can rest assured he will do it to the very best of his ability.

“I have been a paramedic for almost 30 years,” Butler explained.

“Every day I get a front-row seat to the best and the worst of people. My mom and dad planted the seed of appreciation for kindness from the time I was small.

“Martha (Richardson) Maurer, even with her human flaws, is simply the best person I’ve ever known ... the most authentic picture of love here on earth I have ever seen ... a really good mom and really good wife,” Butler wrote. “How could anything possibly improve her?

“The answer — Dave Maurer. Somehow what was already wonderful about my mother is more wonderful now.

“So Dave Maurer,” she concluded, “I want to tell you that I love you. I respect you. Most of all, I am so very proud to be your stepdaughter and I thank God he brought you back into my mother’s life.”

We might ask ourselves which is the greater gift — to love or to be loved? The answer is that each is as natural, and as necessary, to the good of humankind.

To Linda Butler for creating such a thoughtful gift by expressing her abiding love for her stepfather and mother, and for Dave and Martha Maurer for proving that love springs eternal, Happy Valentine’s Day and happy anniversary.

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