Loving surprises, a crazy dating coincidence, a (not so) secret admirer. These true tales remind us of the amazing power of love.
- Posted on Dec 27, 2020
It’s a Small World Gen Wakely from Griswold, Connecticut
What am I doing? I asked myself as I sat in front of my laptop looking at a stranger’s profile—on a dating site of all things. My husband and I had divorced after a long marriage; we had grown children; and I hadn’t dated since I was a teenager. It wasn’t just introducing myself to someone online that was new to me. Everything about this was foreign.
My fingers hovered over the “send” button. Lord, I thought, if you think I should really get to know this man, give me a sign. Before I lost my nerve, I sent my introduction. I got a response a few hours later. We started messaging back and forth, and when I was comfortable with our online friendship, we exchanged numbers and moved to chatting over the phone. His name was Jay, and he had a soothing voice that put me at ease.
“Have you lived in the area long?” Jay asked in our lengthiest conversation yet.
“Oh, yes. My daughter went to St. John’s,” I said.
“Small world! My niece, Carla, went there too,” he replied.
I caught my breath. One of my daughter’s best friends from school was named Carla. Her mother, Kat, and I were close when our girls were little. “By any chance, is your niece’s mother named Kat?”
“Actually, it is!” Jay said. “Kat is my sister.”
That was all the sign I needed. Jay and I immediately scheduled our first date to meet at the park, and it was the beginning of something new and beautiful.
Family Man Sheryl Smith-Rodgers from Blanco, Texas
My heart pounded as I checked my makeup in the mirror. I was going on a date. Not just any date, though. A Valentine’s Day date. It had been four years since my divorce, and though I’d dated some during that time, none of those relationships had panned out—until James. He was the meat cutter at our local grocery store and had a handsome face and a big heart. I’d been so excited to introduce him to my teenage daughter, Lindsey. She, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly thrilled to be meeting him.
The doorbell chimed, and I heard my daughter shouting, “Mom, he’s here!” from the other end of the house. Lord, I fretted, please let this go well.
Hurrying down the hall, I gasped when I opened the door to find James, his arms laden with gift bags, cards, candy, flowers and balloons.
“Here you go,” he said, handing me a bag and a bouquet. “These are for you. Happy Valentine’s Day.” He followed me into the kitchen.
“All this for me?” I reached for a vase for the flowers.
“Not exactly.” James turned to Lindsey, who was watching us from the doorway. “These,” he said, holding out another gift bag and the balloons, “are for you.” Lindsey smiled. Right then, I knew that this would go well indeed. Because James cared not only for my heart but for my daughter’s too. Fifteen years—and counting—of marriage later, he still does.
Love in a Salsa Jar Cynthia Dobbs from Stillwater, Oklahoma
”Happy Valentine’s Day, honey,” my husband said, handing me a simple glass jar with a red lid.
“I see you’ve recycled the salsa jar, Destry.” I grinned eagerly, excited to see what he’d come up with this time.
A few years earlier we’d decided that for Valentine’s Day, we would only exchange gifts we had made ourselves. No stuffed animals, no candy and definitely nothing heart-shaped unless it was cut out of construction paper with our own scissors. The gifts that we gave each other were so much more thoughtful. I’d made him oil paintings and recreated dishes we’d had at some of our favorite date restaurants. Destry had once planted new flowers in the garden, and he’d hand-painted vases with my name. And now this old salsa jar full of paper. I unscrewed the top and peered inside.
“You read one a day,” Destry said as I pulled out a slip of paper.
“Do you remember the Cheyenne Diner?” I read aloud. I almost laughed. How could I forget? It was our favorite diner in New York City. We’d fallen in love over plates of fries, midnight breakfasts and slices of pie bigger than my head. I reached in for another note.
“Do you remember the boy’s green donut?” The green donut had been a plush toy our son had loved to chew on when he was a baby. We’d been thrilled when he finally gave it up.
I pulled out another note. Then another. And another, until I had gone through them all. Every one had just a single line: “Do you remember…?” By the time I’d finished, there were tears in my eyes.
“Thank you,” I said, pulling my husband into a hug. It was a Valentine that kept on giving. Whenever I needed an extra dose of love, I popped into that salsa jar for a shared memory.
My (Not So) Secret Admirer Michael Thompson from Edmund, Oklahoma
”Michael Thompson, you have flowers in the office,” screeched a voice over the intercom as I sat in Miss Eidschun’s seventh grade English class that Valentine’s Day. I frowned, confused. It was a tradition at our school for guys to send flowers to the office for their girlfriends. Girls paraded through the halls with their bouquets, so classmates knew that someone thought they were special. No one sent flowers to the school office for guys.
The classroom had erupted with laughter. I blushed as I slid out of my desk and headed down the hall. In the office, the principal smiled broadly. “Looks like you have a special someone, Michael.”
Mortified but also curious, I grabbed the bud vase with two red carnations. Alone in the hall, I read the card: “With Love, Your Secret Admirer.” I had to admit it felt good, even if the circumstances were unique. But who could it be?
All day, friends speculated on which girls they thought might like me, but no one admitted to sending me flowers. I figured my secret admirer would remain just that—a secret.
After dinner, the phone rang—Nana was calling. I’d always been close to my grandmother, who attended every one of my football games, hollering “Get ’em, Michael!” when I went in for a tackle. Nana wished me a happy Valentine’s Day and asked me about school and practice. Finally, she said mischievously, “I heard you have a secret admirer.”
Nana! I should have known all along! She was my biggest fan—my not so secret admirer.
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