This story was told to me by my neighbor. It happened to her sister, so like a game of telephone, I’m not sure how many of the details have changed with the retelling. However, we’ll say it’s a story that certainly is true, if perhaps not 100% accurate.I was reminded of this story as I was at the local dollar store. I was in line, getting a $1 Valentines Day card for my husband. I knew he had bought my card there earlier, we’re big fans of Dollar Store cards. Our love is worth $3.99 (or $6.99 for a song that plays music when you open it) but we’re too cheap to spend more than $1 (or two cards for a dollar is you pick from the right section).
I looked around to see the other people in line with me. There were young men buying helium balloons shaped like monkeys holding a banana that have the romantic slogan printed on them “You appeal to me”. There were seniors buying a single chocolate rose wrapped in pink foil. There were dads, holding hands of young children, that were getting a pink stuffed bear and also with inexpensive cards. I was touched as I know with the economy still tough, this may be all these men could afford. Still, the Dollar Store had a wide and economical selection, and it made me smile.
Then I remembered the story my neighbor told me.
Her sister was at the Dollar Store last year, about this time, when she also was in a line filled with men buying helium hearts and pink stuffed bears. Donna (the sister) noticed that there was a very old man in line, and that he was wearing some pin that identified him as a veteran. He was holding a single chocolate pink foil rose. Donna asked him where he had served, and he proudly replied “Korea”. This meant a lot to Donna, as her father had also served in Korea.
She smiled at the senior veteran and asked him “So are you getting that for your wife or girlfriend?” He looked at her, and with a firm voice said “I’m getting this for my husband, we were just married!”
The state of New Hampshire passed an equality marriage bill in 2010, and this man was obviously very proud of his recent marriage. Donna asked how long he and his partner had been a couple, and he answered “32 years!”
Donna noticed that the man was only buying one foil rose. His
clothing, while warm for the cold of February in New England, was also worn and old. Donna on a whim reached over to a bucket filled with foil roses at the check out and grabbed another one. She said “I think your husband deserves two roses, then he can share with you!”
At this point, Donna noticed that others in the line had been listening to the old man’s story. A father, with little ones, said “I’d like your husband to get one of these helium balloons! I’ll bet he would like a heart shaped one!” The father asked an employee to please get one of the balloons for him to purchase.
Donna said what happened next was the entire Dollar Store sort of
went crazy for the next 5 minutes. Everyone in line began to add something to their purchase for the old man’s husband. The old man tried to object saying “No no, this is too much!” but he also understood this was a moment of happiness for everyone also. People were enjoying picking up something for his husband, be it a tacky bear or yet another helium balloon.
One person brought over a card, and people began to put a few dollars in. The old man really objected at this point. He didn’t need money. But he was over ruled. One woman with her husband teased “What is your husband not handsome enough to take to dinner? If you don’t want to take him out, you can take out my husband! He’s pretty good looking!”
By the time the shoppers gave the old man the card, it was fat with dollars bills. Donna reached over and said “Let me give you something smaller to put in there. That’s too fat to fit in the envelope! She counted out $36. You have to understand, these were donations from people shopping for their Valentine’s at the dollar store. Donna said at that point an employee of the store said she would change the money instead, and took the $36 and replaced it with a two twenties and a ten. This was an employee at the Dollar Store, not someone spending big money at Tiffany’s.
Donna helped the old man out to the car with a plethora of balloons, chocolates and tacky pink and red objects proclaiming “I LOVE YOU!” Donna learned you really have to put balloons in the trunk of the car, after deciding her new friend was never going to be able to see to drive with all those balloons floating around the interior.
Before he left Donna asked his name. ”I’m Jack” he replied. Donna asked the name of his spouse “He’s Ed, but everyone always calls him Big Ed”.
“Oh so he’s very tall?” she enquired.
Donna said Jack couldn’t quite meet her eye, and seemed rather flustered. Then he replied “Well, not too tall, it’s just a nickname I gave him when we first met.”
Donna said she tried not to laugh as she finished helping Jack pack up his car.
I hope that Jack and Big Ed are still healthy and enjoying this Valentine’s Day as much as I am sure they enjoyed that Valentine’s Day a few years ago.
(This story is dedicated to my favorite loving couple, Randi and Jose. Please support this project, so their story can be an inspiration for those in love everywhere.)
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