The Dozen Long-Stemmed Roses and Its Ungrateful Recipient

20130210-145420.jpgI consider myself a practical romantic. Take Valentine’s Day, for instance. I have nothing against celebrating it, but I try not to get too caught up in the hype. I believe in making an effort to make the day special, but I don’t believe in going overboard. I would rather receive a simple potted plant that I can enjoy for years to come, than an extravagant bouquet of roses that will wilt in a matter of days. I prefer a simple compliment given at the spur of the moment over the carefully crafted words of a Hallmark card. I prefer everyday manifestations of affection to grand gestures of love designed mainly to impress others. As you can see, I’m basically a low-key, low-maintenance kinda girl. My late husband Ronnie was another story.

I guess I shouldn’t complain. Most husbands forget special occasions, but mine looked forward to each one with relish. In all those years we’ve been married, there was never a Valentine’s day, birthday or anniversary that I didn’t have a card, flowers and a little present waiting for me when I woke up in the morning. I always thought to myself that if my husband had been filthy rich, I would have been one spoiled diva dripping with serious bling, because he never spared any expense in getting me stuff that he thought would please me. The irony was that I would have been happy with a simple kiss and a greeting. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself, until that one time when I was scheduled to work on Valentine’s day.

When I woke up that morning, a surprise awaited me. The surprise was not the usual card, flowers and present that have greeted me all these years. The surprise was that there was none at all!

Hmmm… All those years when I told him to keep it simple—forget the flowers and card; dinner and a movie date would do just fine—and he finally listened! I should be happy, so why was I ready to burst in tears? All those times when I kept saying he didn’t have to and he shouldn’t have, well, this time, he finally didn’t. I should have been satisfied, so why was I in panic mode? My being practical had finally rubbed off on my husband, so why did I have a sense of impending doom? Was this the beginning of the end?

Needless to say, I was not in a particularly cheerful mood as I went to work that day. I imagined the hospital crowded with delivery boys laden with armfuls of roses, each one bigger and showier than the last. I imagined my fellow nurses comparing rocks, each one brighter and pricier than the other, supposedly gifts from their hubbies. I’ve never been one to brag about stuff that I got. Even more reason not to today, since I didn’t get anything anyway.

To my surprise, the workplace was relatively quiet. Love was definitely not in the air. Except for a couple of people who received roses, Cupid was a no-show that day. Which was fine with me. A no-fuss day is my kind of day.

Around noon, a buzz went around the nurse’s station. A guy was there to deliver a dozen of exquisite long-stemmed roses encased in an elegant long box. All the other nurses were gazing longingly and hopefully at the box. I did not even look up from my charting.

Then I heard my name being called. I looked up to see the delivery guy handing me a form to sign. Are you kidding me? I looked inside the box and saw a card with his handwriting. My husband and his grand gestures… I couldn’t decide which one was worse: me thinking I was never going to get flowers anymore, or me getting flowers amidst all these women not getting any. Whatever happened to the no-fuss day I thought I was getting? As the day wore on, I would hear people gush over the flowers. I just lowered my head, pretending that I didn’t hear a thing.

When things settled down a little bit, I called my husband. I scolded him a little. “Dada, why, oh, why did you have roses delivered to me at work? You know I don’t like all that fuss!”

“When I looked at your schedule, I saw you were working on Valentine’s, so I wanted to surprise you. When you woke up this morning, you thought I forgot, ha? Surprise!” I could hear how pleased he was from his voice. Then he got serious. “You’re not happy with your surprise, Mama?”

“I am, Dad,” I lied to sooth him, “but next time, do not have anything delivered to me at work anymore, okay?”

“You’re not proud that your co-workers will see it, Mama? Then they will say, her husband must love her very much.”

“Ahhh, Dad, people are cynical. Nobody will think that way. They probably think I sent them to myself! After all, who’s gonna believe that a husband who’s been married more than twenty years still sends roses to his wife? But thank you, Dada. They’re beautiful, but no more delivery, okay?”

“Okayyyy…” was his dejected response. I could sense that he was a little hurt.

That night, my friend from work, Gigi, told her husband, Eugene, about Ronnie’s roses. She scolded her husband, and chided him that all those years that they have been together, he had never given her a single rose. Eugene, ever practical, just replied, “Go out into the front yard. Choose whatever roses you want and I’ll cut them for you. ” That ended the conversation.

Kate, another friend, also told her husband, Steve, about the roses. Steve, whom she puts on a strict allowance, told her, “Give me some money and I’ll buy them for you.” That shut her up.

It’s been years since this incident. Those long-stemmed roses have long since faded, but their memory will haunt this ungrateful recipient forever, because she never got to properly thank its sender. I always thought I had a lifetime of chances to show my love, but fate proved me wrong. I will never get to thank him in person again, but this I can do: I can honor him in myriad ways, by writing about the laughter and the tears, and the twenty-nine years of memories he left behind. Every post would then be an affirmation of the love I have for the man who sent me those long-stemmed roses, my one and my only true Valentine.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Florence
    Feb 14, 2013 @ 10:58:24

    Very touching. Great post.


  2. duncanr
    Feb 15, 2013 @ 12:29:09

    This story struck a chord with me 😦


  3. John Jackson
    Feb 17, 2013 @ 05:52:50

    Nice story. Your style of writing still amazes me. It’s the main reason that I have subscribed to this post. It seems that no matter what story you have to tell, you have all the right words to make it flow smoothly. I wish that I could write as well as you for my site. I guess I’ll continue to improve my style.


    • emmblu
      Feb 17, 2013 @ 07:00:50

      Mr John Jackson, to get a compliment like this from a fellow writer is music to my ears. It makes me want to finish all my unfinished posts and write new ones. Thank you, sir, from the bottom of my heart.


    • emmblu
      Feb 17, 2013 @ 08:03:36

      I tried to leave comments in two of your posts but I kept getting error. Will try again tomorrow.


  4. purplesunscreen
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 18:05:05

    beautiful story:) can’t wait to read more of your posts:)


    • emmblu
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 21:07:06

      Thank you, Reissa. I enjoyed your posts as well, especially the one about valentines. I think the picture of the steak did it for me, as did the fact that your BF ate the arm of the cookie bear because he was a “carnivore .”


      • purplesunscreen
        Feb 22, 2013 @ 08:05:45

        Thanks for reading:)
        I have to show my mother your blog– her husband (my father) passed away and she is still grieving and needs to remember the good stuff.

      • emmblu
        Feb 22, 2013 @ 18:35:45

        Reissa, I am sorry to hear about your mom’s and your loss. Please have her read this page I wrote under “Letters To My Loved Ones” It’s entitled “From One Widow to Another.”I wrote it to comfort a cousin, and ended up finding comfort and peace in it myself.

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