Ginger Lane is a romantic who meets life with joy, year after year. Her story is a lesson for us all about celebrating the moment. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns
By Ginger Lane
For weeks before Valentine’s Day the newspapers are filled with advertisements of jewelry for your sweetheart. The ads are mostly of heart necklaces and bracelets for females. The necklaces come in gold, silver, and platinum; some are plain and some are embellished with diamonds. I wanted one, and I wanted my sweetheart, my husband Brad, to get me one.
I left a page of these ads from the newspaper out on his side of the coffee table every day. I pointed to them and said, “Hint, hint.” I told him there were really cheap ones and really expensive ones. I showed him one that was only $19.95.
He just grinned at me. I felt sure that he would get one for me this year. This hope was most irrational, considering that Brad, over the years, never knew what to get me and always made a gift of cash.
Brad went out for a long period of time one day shortly before Valentine’s Day. When I asked where he had been for so long, he grinned at me and said, “Shopping.” Then I was sure that he had gotten me a heart necklace. I was eagerly awaiting the big day.
When Valentines Day arrived, I found Brad in the bathroom shaving when I got up. I smiled at him and said, “Happy Birthday!” February 14 is also Brad’s birthday. He said, “Happy Valentine’s Day” to me, and pursed his lips in a kissing sign but did not smear me with shaving cream.
I made my coffee and sat down on the couch with the Los Angeles Times, as I do every morning. I had not yet signed my card for him. I didn’t realize that he was in his office signing his card for me. He came over to me with a sweet smile and handed me his Valentine card.
Somehow this morning I felt tender and vulnerable. I usually have my armor well in place and do not shed tears for my own soft feelings, only for others. I started reading the card and it was so sweet and sentimental that I could not control the tears as they ran down my cheeks.
Brad was still standing above me with a grin on his face as if he had something else for me. He leaned down and kissed me and said, “I love you.” I returned the same sentiments.
He kept standing there with this silly smile on his face so I expected that I would soon be receiving my lovely heart necklace. I dried my tears and waited for my necklace. Finally, as it was not forthcoming, I said “Where’s my necklace?”
He said, “Open up the card and look inside the middle part.” I unfolded the fold and there was a crisp $100 bill. I didn’t know what to say.
Brad said, “I went to five stores and I couldn’t figure out which one you would like, so you can buy your own.”
I laughed and cried and kissed him and said, “Thank you.” I should never expect a leopard to change his spots. Anyway, I decided not to buy a necklace, but to put the money toward two paintings that I wanted to purchase.
That night I took Brad out for his birthday. I did not have to tell him not to wear his usual casual jeans, and I dressed up in an elegant black skirt and top with a little jacket of transparent viol trimmed with sequins. We had a special Valentine’s dinner at Tiny Naylor’s restaurant in Long Beach. We often eat there when we go to our “Ethics” class at church on Thursday nights and after attending church on Sunday.
But this dinner was special – two for $50. I had top sirloin steak and lobster tail while Brad had salmon. This dinner came with a glass of champagne and unlimited champagne or a glass of wine. I chose a glass of wine with one glass of champagne. I knew that after the two glasses of champagne and the two glasses of wine I would be feeling no pain. Brad doesn’t drink, so I took his.
There was a nice salad and vegetable side dish with the potato of your choice. Dessert was a delicious brownie with raspberry sauce poured over it. The service was super special, the food perfect, and the decorations were outstanding.
The lights were kept low and lots of romantic couples were cooing softly to each other. I was feeling wonder and special and very, very satisfied and gave the waiter a $20 tip for his terrific service. I floated out to the car with a satisfied smile on my face.
When we got home, we sat on the couch and watched a little news on the television, as we were both much too full to go to bed. Then we watched a comedy and had several good laughs. After an hour or so, we meandered off to bed, the end of a perfect day of happiness.
I shall always treasure my memory of Valentine’s Day 2003, even though I didn’t receive the little heart necklace. I received something much better – thoughtfulness, tenderness, and love.