“Stargazer Lily”: The Story Behind the Song – Rich and Shelia Bovard

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Watch/Listen to “Stargazer Lily”:

Rich and Shelia Bovard were high school sweethearts. They met in passing at a high school football game, (a moment he seemed to remember vividly during our interview) and later became friends when they took an English class together. He asked her out for the first time in a poem that he wrote and gave to her on Valentine’s Day. So naturally, Valentine’s Day was the perfect occasion for him to present her with a special song.

Feels like it was just the other day when I first asked you to be my Valentine.
I wrote it down and it made a pretty rhyme, but now
All I need are these four simple words: “What’s Bern doin’ tonight?”
You may not remember the first time we met
Or when it was that we shared our first kiss,
But the moments that have meant the most are the ones we won’t forget
And in the end, it just comes down to this.

Valentines Day 1985

Rich approached me after he saw the video of the first dance at my wedding on Facebook. He found out that I had written the song for our first dance, and wondered if I’d be interested in writing a song for Shelia; he thought it was a very unique gift idea. Of course I jumped at the chance. During our interview he told me stories about their relationship – how they met, things they had been through together over the years, and a few random, yet noteworthy facts (like “Bern”, their special nickname for each other.) Some stories and other facts that stood out:

The night his grandfather passed away, before he had even met Shelia, Rich had a dream. In his dream, he saw a dark haired woman, wearing a veil, standing on the steps of the church they were later married in.

Today a very special antique clock sits inside their home on a shelf that his grandfather made. A photograph of his grandparents sits next to it. Rich and Shelia were photographed in front of this clock at his grandmother’s house before they went to their high school prom.

You know that old clock on the shelf that my grandfather made?
It’s been telling the times of you and me, since he left this life.
That night I had a dream; I stood on the steps of the church we were married in
And a dark haired woman in a veil became my bride.
It may not have been love at first sight; we started out as friends
But that kind of start really is the best kind
‘Cause it grows into a love that never ends.

Rich and Shelia in front of the clock

They maintained a long-distance courtship after he graduated high school and went off to college. They had talked about getting engaged and getting married, and one day they went out and bought rings together. After they left the jewelry store, as they were walking down the street, they began contemplating when to announce their engagement. Shelia turned to Rich and said, “you know, you really haven’t asked me yet.” They had come to a bus stop, and he got down on one knee, but before he could say the words, she stopped him and said, “you are not proposing to me at a bus stop!” So he asked her later, when the moment and setting were more appropriate… and of course, she said yes!

Rich and Shelia were very close to their grandparents. Grandma Bovard treasured Shelia like her own daughter. Grammie and Papa, Shelia’s grandparents, lived in Maine, where Rich and Shelia would travel to visit and see the lighthouses. These are times they’ve treasured for many years.

Grammie & Pappa

The couple is also involved in a lot of charitable work. Her family is from India, where they have traveled and blessed orphaned children with gifts. Rich told me about one time that they had “adopted” a family at Christmas and how the eyes of the children widened with joy at their arrival, as though they had just received the whole world.

Orphanage in India

Shortly after that, Rich found out that his grandmother didn’t have much time left to live, so they traveled to Pennsylvania to spend her last days by her side.

Grandma Bovard

Lighthouses in Maine, where your Grammie and Papa stayed
And the bus stop where we almost got engaged
Late nights with my grandmother, I know they made her glad
‘Cause she said you were like the daughter that she never had
And the eyes of the children that we blessed at Christmas time
As if they had received the whole wide world in just one night
You stood before me then as now, such a beautiful sight
Stargazer lilies in your hands, and I see heaven in your eyes.

wedding bouquet stargazer lilies

 

 

But the biggest thing that stood out to me while writing the song was a seemingly tiny detail that later became the inspiration for the song title and lyrics: Their wedding flower was the Stargazer Lily. It turns out that one of the meanings behind this beautiful bloom is, “I see heaven in you.”

I see heaven in you
A glimpse of what’s to come, when the world is overcome by the love of the One
Who brought us… Lighthouses in Maine…

You know that old clock on the shelf that my grandfather made?
It’s been telling the times of you and me, since he left this life
And even though we both know it’s not gonna stop anytime soon
I’m glad we started young, ’cause that just means I get to spend more time with you.

Just like marriage, these flowers bloom one day at a time…

Rich sent me hundreds of pictures and video footage from their life together, which I used to make a DVD for their song. He also wrote her a book of the story behind the song. (Believe it or not, it’s much more detailed than this post.) He gifted her with these items, along with a framed CD (which I had custom labeled with a picture of a Stargazer Lily) on Valentine’s Day weekend.

On February 15, a bouquet of flowers was delivered to my door. My first thought was that my husband wanted to catch me off guard by sending me flowers the day after Valentine’s Day, but then I remembered that I had told him not to spend the money. I opened the box and found this note inside:

“Stargazer lilies for the composer and singer of the song of the same name. Thank you for helping to make this a special Valentine’s Day for my wife and I. We hear heaven in your voice… Rich Bovard.”

Stargazer Lilies Blooming

I cried when I read it. I guess he pulled a tearjerker on me too.

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