“Grandpa’s an old fart,” my granddaughter declared. Plunking her eleven-year old body down at the kitchen table, Caroline snatched a chocolate chip cookie from the plate and took a bite.
Reaching for my oven mitts, I wondered what had happened to bring about this sudden change of heart. Up until now, her relationship with her grandfather had been more or less storybook perfect.
“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Won’t he let you watch your favourite television game show?”
“It’s not that,” she replied, lowering her gaze.
I opened the oven door and checked the second batch of cookies. They needed a few more minutes, so I reset the timer, slipped off the mitts, and joined her at the table. “Then, what is it?”
“I asked him what he was going to get you for Valentine’s Day and all he said was ‘hrrhump’. He also said something about it being just another marketing ploy to get hold of his hard earned cash.”
“Oh.” I swallowed my smile. “Is that all?”
“Is that all?” she repeated, her eyes wide. “Did you hear what I just said? Grandpa’s not going to buy you a Valentine’s Day card. And he’s not going to get you a box of chocolates either. He’s a cheap, old, grumpy fart.”
“Oh, he’s all that, and more,” I agreed. “But why do you care what he gets me for Valentine’s Day?”
She nibbled the last of her cookie, catching a trail of melted chocolate chip with her tongue. “We’re studying it at school. You know. How the day got started. Who it’s named after. That kind of thing.”
“Sounds interesting,” I said, nudging the plate toward her.
She spied the offerings, while her hand hovered in mid-air. “It is. Did you know that it was named after Saint Valentine? That he was a Christian priest living in Rome and that he was martyred in 270 AD?”
I shook my head, and she continued.
“Around the 1800s people started sending Valentine’s Day cards to each other. Now, it’s celebrated around the world. It’s the one day of the year when people show their love for each other.”
“Ahhh,” I said. “So, you think that because Grandpa isn’t going to buy me anything, he doesn’t love me?”
Caroline winced ever so slightly, but the gesture, along with the tinge of red spreading across her cheeks, told me I’d hit the nail on the head.
“Love’s not just about buying someone chocolates or flowers or giving them a card on a certain day of the year,” I said. “It’s a whole lot more than that.”
Selecting a cookie, she waved it at me. “You’re just saying that ‘cos you’re stuck with him.”
“I’m stuck with your grandfather because I want to be stuck with him. And I don’t need an annual reminder or random act of kindness to tell me he loves me.”
I leaned across the table, and patted her arm. “Love’s like life, hon. It’s lived day to day. Often without fanfare, and devoid of glitz and glamour. It’s the little things we do for each other that means the most.”
She wrinkled her nose. A sure sign she was unconvinced.
“It’s like these cookies,” I said, tilting my head toward the plate. “I bake them whenever you come for a visit because you like them. But more than that, I make them because I love you.”
“You like ‘em, too,” she said.
“Yes, I do. But I can’t eat them anymore because of my diabetes. Just like I can’t eat candy or chocolate, either. So, tell me, does it really make any sense for Grandpa to buy me something I can’t have? It’d be like you giving that cute little boy in your class, Tommy Roberts, a peanut butter cup on Valentine’s Day.”
“I don’t like him, Grandma!” Caroline declared. “Besides, he’s allergic.”
“Exactly. That’s why it’s much better to show how much you care in another way.” I pointed to the fresh floral arrangement sitting center stage on the kitchen island. “See those carnations? Your grandfather picked them up yesterday when he went to the grocery store for milk. He got them for me.”
She munched on the rest of her cookie in silence, and then asked. “Was it your birthday or something?”
“No. It was just a plain, old, regular day like any other. He bought them because he knows I like them. Two weeks ago he brought home a bouquet of chrysanthemums. The time before that it was dahlias. The point is, your Grandpa’s been giving me flowers since before we were married. Back then, we didn’t have a lot of money for extras, so he’d pick a bunch of dandelions, daisies or lilacs from the side of the road. The type of flower, or how much they cost, isn’t important. It’s what they represent--in other words, your grandfather’s love for me--that is.” I paused to let that sink in.
“What’s he doing downstairs anyway?” I asked. “Watching TV?”
“Nope. Folding laundry.”
“Ah,” I said, leaning back in the chair. “I love watching a man do housework. It’s so sexy.”
“Grandma!” Caroline slapped her hands over her ears and scrunched her eyes shut. “That’s disgusting.”
“No, it’s not,” I replied with a grin. “It’s romantic. And that’s just another way I know your grandfather loves me.”
She opened her eyes and lowered her hands to her lap.
I smiled. “Don’t you get it, hon? Love isn’t something you receive one day out of the year. It’s the little things, those wonderful little cumulative actions people do for each other throughout the year that really count. It’s being supportive and respectful of each other’s dreams and aspirations. It’s a kind word, a cheery good morning, a helping hand, and a goodnight kiss that says you’re loved.”
I paused to take a breath, and then glanced toward the basement door. “I’ve had fifty wonderful years with that old fart, as you call him. He loves me more than life itself, as I do him. I wouldn’t trade him for all the cards or chocolates or expensive restaurant dinners in the world. And that, my dear, is what true love and the meaning of Valentine’s Day is all about.”
“Wow,” she said, her eyes watching me as if seeing me for the very first time.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Wow.” Pushing myself up from the table, I slipped on the oven mitts and rescued the second batch of cookies from the stove and placed them on the counter. Caroline jumped up and transferred them to the cooling racks, and then she placed two cookies on a separate plate.
“I’m going to give these to Grandpa,” she said, picking up the plate and heading for the basement.
“For Valentine’s Day?” I asked.
“Nope,” she replied with a smile. “Just for today. It’s way more special.”
I love that story! Thank you so much for sharing it.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and married to her high school sweetheart for more than a quarter of a century, it's a given she'd write mystery and romantic suspense. When not writing she loves to travel, visit friends and family, and of course, read using ‘Threegio’ her cherished and much beloved Kindle 3G!
Anne, can you tell us about your books Defending Glory and Protecting Hope?
PROTECTING HOPE, book two of the series, features Deputy Jeremy Abbott. A hero in every sense of the word, he was a secondary character in DEFENDING GLORY. From the moment he walked onto the page, however, he insisted he deserved his own story, as well a happily-ever-after. PROTECTING HOPE is a stand alone book and will be released this spring. Check my website and blogs for details.
Anne, thanks so much for guesting today and sharing with us about the true meaning of love.
If you would like to enter to win an ecopy of Anne's book, Defending Glory, please comment on this blog post. Don't forget to check out Anne's book trailer below. What's your view on the real meaning of love?