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Story Time: The shop owner

Posted on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 4:15 pm

By Lorry Myers

I went to sleep the night before, dreading the next day. This date on the calendar had been looming over my head, the third in a line of many firsts to come. After my husband died, I survived my first Christmas, my first New Year’s, and next in line was Valentine’s Day.

I felt the weight of the day before the day even started.

My Valentine gifts to Randy were never what he expected. I gave him albums and tapes and CD’s of music, and then concert tickets to see them live. I bought unneeded stuff and wanted stuff, tool stuff and cool stuff. Fancy cards, funny cards, and flowy cards with words I might have written myself.

Randy, however, believed in the traditional ways of Valentine gifting and settled in the routine of sending me flowers. All the years we were married, Valentine’s Day flowers were delivered to my work, or carried through my front door. Each delivery led to something more.

That was my favorite part.

Over the years, my children grew used to those deliveries from our local flower shop, and so did the people where I worked. Randy always went into the downtown shop and ordered in person, always ordered early, and always ordered the same thing every year. My husband preferred roses, not because I did, but because it was Valentine’s Day. They might be red, or white, or pink, and each year, each arrangement arrived with a card and a simple message in my husband’s measured hand, my name proudly penned on the front.

I kept every card.

Now, Valentine’s Day was here, and Randy was not. I felt off balance that morning, struggling with what was and what used to be. I was painfully aware what the day means to people who love; I knew what it meant to Randy. Everywhere today, deliveries would be made, cards would be opened, and love would be declared.

Just not here, not today.

Then, the doorbell rang, catching me off-guard. When I cautiously cracked my door, there was Gretchen, owner of In Full Bloom, our local flower shop. In my hometown, Gretchen’s small business is a part of most every tragedy and every reason to celebrate. Between births and birthdays, heartaches and holidays, Gretchen is a busy lady, especially on Valentine’s Day.

What was she doing here?

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard