Sunday, February 13, 2011

Because It's Valentine's Day

My friend and I have been emailing back and forth, trying to confirm a day that would work for both of us to meet for lunch.
In one of her emails my friend said, "Let's go Monday!  Oh wait...that's stupid Valentine's Day.  Maybe things would be less busy on Tuesday."
I agreed that Tuesday would be better, and suggested we meet at the new Italian place.
"What new Italian place?" she asked.  And then she finished with, "Stupid, stupid Valentine's Day."
I laughed because for years I shared her sentiment.
Valentine's Day was just another day to remind me of the pathetic state that was my love life.
Something happened though, that made me realize that Valentine's Day didn't have to be about romance.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for over a year, you will have read this story.
I hope you won't mind that I share it again.
It is my favorite love story of all time...and it has absolutely nothing to do with romance.

One afternoon while I was at work my phone rang.
I answered to hear my grandpa on the other end.
"Noelle, can you come here after work?  I need you to take me somewhere."
I asked, "Where are we going Grandpa?"
"Just come as soon as you can," was all he offered by way of a reply.

My grandpa was 92 at the time, and mostly blind as a result of living for years with macular degeneration.
He lived alone and did well at taking care of himself.
I took him grocery shopping, paid his bills, read his mail, fixed the remote whenever he pushed a wrong button, and called him every single night at 10:00 to tell him it was time to get ready for bed.
In return, he gave me the greatest blessing of all - his love.

As I pulled into Grandpa's driveway that evening, I was sure he would tell me we were going to Arby's.
He craved roast beef sandwiches more than anything, and at least twice a month I found myself being treated to dinner.
I had no sooner turned the car off when Grandpa came out of his house.
He had a bottle cap opener on his key chain, and when he needed his house key he felt for that bottle cap opener and knew his key was next to it.  He was in the process of doing this when I got to the porch.
"Can I lock it for you?" I asked.
"No, I've got it," he said.  And then he shuffled his way down the stairs and around to his back patio.
I followed wondering what he was up to.

Grandpa bent over a table and stood up holding a jar of roses.
A jar of roses that had no water.
Roses that he had picked off of his own bushes.
"Do these look okay?" he asked.
"They're beautiful.  What are they for?"
"Let's just get in the car and I'll tell you where to go."

Grandpa directed me to a few streets over, and into the driveway of an old brick house.
"Wait here,"  he told me.
I watched as my white haired, 92 year old Grandpa shuffled his way up the stairs.
I watched as he felt around the door until he found the doorbell.
And I watched as a woman, many years his junior, opened the door.
He said something that I didn't hear, and then handed over the jar of roses.
Lisa, the woman he gave the roses to, burst into tears and gave my grandpa a long hug.
She said something to Grandpa and then he made his way back to the car.
I was wiping away my own tears as he opened the car door.

Grandpa was quite on the drive home, except for an occasional sniffle.
Finally, as we pulled into his driveway, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said,
"Noelle, I think God inspired me to give Lisa those roses today."
I told him I was sure that he was right.

That wasn't the end of the story with Lisa, a single mother trying her best to support her family.
Over the next few years Grandpa would often have me deliver things for him.
Sometimes it was an envelope with money.
Sometimes it was food.
At Christmas it was always an amaryllis.

Later, when Grandpa needed Lisa, she was there for him.
I think Lisa spent as much time with Grandpa as I did during his last few weeks.
She was there with me when Grandpa died, and she's been there for me many times since.
And I was at her wedding, the day she married the man of her dreams.  We both missed Grandpa that day.

Valentine's Day doesn't have to be about romance.
As I learned from my grandpa, it's a perfect day to give love to someone in need.

I hope on this day that someone reaches out to you and loves you. Because you deserve that.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful (sniff, sniff)

Leslie said...

that is probably the very best Valentine's day story I've ever heard. The day really should be more about love and serving others rather than candy and dates.

Sandra said...

I really love your family

Give Back Today said...

What a sweet story. Thank you for sharing. said...

That is so beautiful, as are all of your stories about family.
Thanks for this non-romantic Valentine's message. It's really meaningful.
Hugs to you,

Sonya said...

Everyone with a bad attitude about Valentines Day needs to read that story. Thanks Noelle

-stephanie- said...

I'm going to bust out in tears if I don't get a grip. This was so beautiful.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Bossy Betty said...

Oh man, the Grandpa story got to me....

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

Judie said...

Noelle, what a beautiful and inspiring story, and what a special man your Grandpa was!

Anonymous said...

best. valentines. story. ever.

what a very special man your grandpa was.

and how blessed you were to have him.


Kristie said...

Love that Grandpa! Such a great example of what pure love is.

I'm not really a Valentine's Day hater. To me, it's just another day. It only bugs me when people patronize me. Most of the time unintentionally, but it does happen. Trust me, it started 2 days ago this year.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Oh Noelle ... I'm not given to crying at the drop of a hat but that one made ME tear up! You have a lovely way of telling the most beautiful and precious stories! Thank you for sharing a bit of your wonderful family with us!

Lalis said...

...and share on Facebook!

Thank you, Noelle! What a lovely story!

Venassa said...

Aww this is my favorite thing I've read all day. Nothing can make me tear up like cute grandfather stories.

Shan said...

Hoping your Valentine's Day makes you as happy as this story made me.

Anonymous said...

Your Grandpa was a nice man and I can tell you loved him immensely, too. That's sweet.

jayayceeblog said...

Oh, well, now you've got me all weepy. Beautiful story. I'm in love with your sweet, sweet grandpa. I'll bet you miss him! And thanks for the reminder that Valentine's Day love is about so much more than romantic love!!!

Anonymous said...

How beautiful Noelle! You now have 282 followers :)