Nancy Coulter reflects on 54 years of building family, love and memories through Valentine’s Day
Nancy Coulter’s annual Valentine’s Day party started as a bonding experience for her, her husband Cameron and their then-3-year-old son Scott as they had just moved to Canyon Country. Fifty-three years later, the annual Valentine’s Day party continues with Coulter’s expanded family of three children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
“I always wanted to be a mother, that’s what I wanted to be growing up,” said Coulter. “I just went full out and did everything I could to have a wonderful relationship and family and I was very, very blessed that I had all that.”
For Coulter, the Valentine’s Day motif of hearts isn’t just something for the season. Every day Coulter is wearing at least one heart, whether it be on her shirt or her necklace.
“I wear a heart every day. I have for years and years and years,” said Coulter.
Hearts for her go beyond being a shape. They represent togetherness, love and support for one another.
“Nothing can beat hearts,” said Coulter. “Hearts is love and it’s bringing people together.”
Hearts were there when Coulter’s was shattered.
On Feb. 1, 2013, Coulter and Cameron’s daughter Heather died after a 19-year battle with breast cancer that spread to the rest of her body.
The Valentine’s Day party after that was extremely difficult for Coulter and her family. They were surrounded by heart-shaped brownies, Jell-O and sandwiches, but heartbroken.
Coulter reminds herself and her family that Heather may not be physically present, but she will always be with them, especially at her favorite Valentine’s Day party.
Coulter’s Valentine’s Day party consists of games with prizes, heart-shaped food, her family and a bountiful supply of heart decorations.
“My grandma has always outdone herself throwing our family’s annual Valentine’s party,” said Madison Benveniste, one of Coulter’s grandchildren. “Whether my cousins and I had a ‘Valentine’ or not on this holiday, she made sure we felt loved.”
The games appoint competition, but at the end of the party everyone leaves a winner, a tradition that started as soon as the Valentine’s Day party expanded to five with twins Heather and Dawn.
For the 54th annual Valentine’s Day party, Benveniste played host at her Santa Clarita home.
“My grandma has always put so much time and effort into this annual tradition, that our family decided it was her turn to be spoiled,” said Benveniste. “We want her to know how appreciated she is and how we have enjoyed these traditions she worked so hard to preserve over the years.”
Along with this being the 54th annual party, it was also the 10th anniversary of Heather’s passing.
“This year was kind of hard,” said Coulter. “We couldn’t believe it. It’s been 10 years already.”
Through her sadness, Coulter held on tight to her hearts and reminded herself of the love in her life.
“We’re not just family, we’re all friends,” said Coulter.
“It is a beautiful thing to see my children now enjoy all the festive games and food that I was so blessed to grow up with,” said Benveniste. “Life can be busy and hectic, but this tradition my grandma started 54 years ago is something that grounds us, allows our family to slow down and get together to enjoy what is most important in life — family!”