Be My Valentine: There's nothing like slow snow-plowing to help uncover love

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The recent Northeastern snowstorm had me feeling concerned for my sister and her family in Connecticut, as well as relieved that Pittsburgh had dodged it this time around.

The relatives are doing fine, thanks to strong minds and bodies -- not to mention a generator -- and I am reminded of three years ago when Pittsburgh was not quite so lucky. But how do you define lucky?

Snowmageddon, as we called it, arrived here Feb. 5, 2010. But this story goes back a few years prior.

My youngest child, Maureen, was a senior in college when she met Greg, a wonderful young man, and love blossomed. Upon graduation she moved back to Pittsburgh, and he decided to move here as well after her admonishment: "Don't move here because of me, move here because you love Pittsburgh." And so he did.

The romance continued, and our family's affection for Greg grew. Children, siblings, grandparents, nieces and nephews all joyfully assumed he'd be part of the family someday. His family felt the same. We hosted his parents one weekend in spring of 2009 and all mused as to when these two might get engaged.

But by that August, the romance was over. This seemingly perfectly suited couple had broken up. We were all devastated. Maureen's brothers were only half-joking when they said if they had to choose who to keep post-breakup, they were keeping Greg.

Summer turned to fall, and fall turned to winter, and then February hit with a vengeance in the form of Snowmageddeon. We marveled, we shoveled, we cursed, we shoveled, we checked on each other and we waited for the city to spring into action. Like I said, we waited.

A few days later, I flew to New York for a business meeting and was amazed at how well Manhattan's streets had been cleared compared to Pittsburgh's.

When Maureen asked what I'd like to do for my birthday the following Sunday, I suggested a movie at the Manor in Squirrel Hill. My oldest sister also wanted to see it and agreed to meet us there.

When Sunday arrived, in the front door walked Maureen and right behind her, Greg. I leapt from my chair as my heart leapt from my chest. They were playing it cool as cucumbers, so I tried to turn it down a notch (not an easy task for me).

I ran out to the garage to get the Christmas gift for him that I'd been hauling around in my car for months. After a few minutes of awkward conversation we headed to the movie. My sister was waiting outside, and as she shares the family trait of not being able to "turn it down a notch," she struggled equally with what to make of Maureen and Greg.

We had barely settled in our seats when the projector broke. Was I disappointed to miss the movie? Not a chance! We headed across the street to a little restaurant. I excused myself to use the ladies room and while in there made a clandestine cellphone call to my other daughter in Philly.

She laughed hysterically as I whispered, "What do you know? What does it mean?" She wasn't giving up much information. Up until they are age 5, you are the first to know everything about your kids' lives. After that, you sometimes feel like you are at the back of the line.

The casual meal continued, the conversation began to relax, and then the information started to flow.

Maureen drives a little Honda Civic, which was so buried under snow on her city street that she couldn't begin to get it out. After any shoveling efforts, the plows buried it again.

Greg, on the other hand, drives a truck. Turns out he had been picking her up every morning, delivering her to work, continuing on to his job and then doing the reverse at the end of the day. By the end of a week, the light bulbs went off, as did Cupid's arrows.

I'm overjoyed to say that Greg and Maureen now begin and end their daily commutes from a little house they bought last year as husband and wife.

It's easy to love Mother Nature when she is providing a warm breeze on a spring day, a rainbow after a summer shower or a bright harvest moon on a clear fall night. After a 2-foot snowfall in February? Not so much. Then again, here's to Snowmageddon! Here's to love!

And to the street crews that eventually plowed us out -- this is one citizen who says thanks for taking your time.


Barb McGinley of Shadyside, senior vice president at The HDH Group, can be reached at PG Portfolio welcomes "Be My Valentine" romantic submissions during February, in addition to other reader essays. Send your writing to; or by mail to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222. Portfolio editor Gary Rotstein may be reached at 412-263-1255. First Published February 15, 2013 5:00 AM


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