Janet's Jargon

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Friday, February 13, 2009

A true romance

Happy Valentine's Day!
Anybody who has ever been in love has a sweet story of their own to tell. The one I am about to tell you did not happen on Valentine's Day. It was on a hot summer day in Grand Forks, North Dakota. To me, it spells L-O-V-E in a way we seldom see it.

My late husband Ivan and I often went to a certain fast food restaurant in the summer, mainly because they had their air conditioning set lower than almost anybody else in town. We had a cup we had gotten from them a couple of years before this incident happened. We were cheap, but we did at least buy some little thing to eat along with the free refill of coffee we got when we bought our own mug in, which proudly bore their logo. The other reason we went was that it gave us a chance to get away from the hectic activities of running the HELP line at Mission Socorro, the charitable organization we ran. It helped keep burnout at bay.

There was another young couple that came in almost as often as we did. We were not sure if they were a brother and sister, good friends, or a real "couple." I am not sure exactly what the politically correct term is for such people now. Back a few years they were considered "somewhat retarded." I think now we are supposed to say they are "mentally challenged."

Grand Forks had a population of about 50,000 people, but it was still small enough that certain people had their routines so down-pat that everybody knew where certain people would be, and when. These two young people were able to hold down a job. They worked at two separate restaurants as dishwashers. We had heard that they never missed a day of work, were never late, and never complained about anything. We had speculated that they probably lived at a group home somewhere, but that was just a guess. They seldom took the bus unless it was extremely cold or raining really hard. They walked wherever they went.

When the servers at this restaurant would see them coming, they would run out to the counters by the coffee pot and quickly gather up all but about 4 of the little containers of cream and run them back to the kitchen. Why? This couple would go over and get a glass of water and empty as many of the creamers as there were out there into the water, would mix it up, then they would sit there for sometimes over an hour, drinking their "free milk."

This particular evening, when we went in, they were sitting in a corner booth, but oh my! How different they looked! She was dolled up ina formal that looked like it probably came from the "Playhouse" at the local thrift shop where they had old vintage clothes for theater productions, etc. She also sported a big floppy-brimmed hat. He had a suit jacket with mismatched pants--and his tennis shoes. Oh, and he had a very wide, loud necktie. They had broken down and ordered food--and they were drinking a soda.

We watched, wondering what was going on. We asked the servers and they had no idea, but they were chuckling at them. After a little while he reached out and took her hands in his. They were talking too softly for anybody to hear what they were saying.

Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I went over and said, trying to sound interested but not just nosy, "It looks like it must be a special occasion. We have seen you in here so many times I feel like we almost know you. Can you tell me what you are celebrating?"

They both beamed. They welcomed the intrusion--or interest. Finally, he replied, "It is our anniversary. We were married five years ago today."

I congratulated them, wishing them many more years of happiness together. Then I went back and told Ivan what I had found out. We contemplated what we could do for them, then we came up with a plan. I went over and talked to the servers on duty. We called Hugo's, the Piggly Wiggly store across the street from the restaurant, and asked them if they had a cake they could decorate. They said they could, so we asked them to write "Happy Anniversary" on it. We had no idea what their names were, so we didn't have it personalized. One of the servers volunteered to go pick it up, so we gave him enough money for the cake--and a couple of candles so they could "dine by candlelight."

By the time he had come back with it, I had gone around to the few other people that were in the restaurant and quietly told them what was going on and we set our plan in motion. The servers came out with the cake and the candles. They set the candles on their table and lit them, then set the cake down and handed them a knife to cut it. They had a couple of styrofoam containers for them to put their cake in. Everybody in the restaurant gathered around them and we sang the heartiest "Happy Anniversary" you have ever heard in your life. It didn't matter how off key anybody was. We didn't pretend to be the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Our young couple had never glowed more in their life, other than perhaps the day they were married. The rest of us? There wasn't a dry eye in the place. When we finished singing, the bride spoke up and asked one of the servers if they could get some more of the styrofoam containers so they could share their cake--and their special day--with all of their friends.

It doesn't matter what shape or size or time love comes into our lives. It is the best thing we have this side of heaven! Happy Valentine's Day! Enjoy the one you love.

One tiny P.S. to the story. We noticed that the servers never went and removed the creamers after that when they saw the young couple come in.


  • At 8:13 PM, Blogger S.K. Hamilton said…

    Precious. This is the sort of story that restores my faith in human nature. Thanks for sharing a wonderful valentine (love) story.

    Pee Wee

  • At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Kristie Leigh Maguire said…

    Goes to show you can't always judge a book by it's cover.

  • At 2:14 AM, Blogger Brenda Stratton said…

    What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing it.

  • At 7:18 AM, Blogger Mary Emma Allen said…

    A beautiful story, Janet. Thanks for sharing for Valentine's Day.

  • At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Nina M. Osier said…

    Janet, I know a couple very much like that one. Precious, indeed!

  • At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very nice story janet! Hope that you have the most wonderful Valentine's Day!!!

  • At 11:42 AM, Blogger Linda Austin said…

    How sweet, Janet. I know your own Valentine is smiling upon you today.

  • At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Valentine's Day is special to a lot of people, young and old alike.
    My older son and his wife were married on Valentine's Day.Theirs was a simple ceremony performed by a judge, but it was really romantic. We shared their anniversary with them today. They are still very happy after six years of marriage.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE INFERNO COLLECTION, Five Star/Gale hardcover, Wheeler large print
    coming the end of February: THE DROWNING POOL, Five Star


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