The other day, a package arrived for me. It had an unmistakable writing on the front. I knew right away who it was from - my old friend Randy Rabenold. He has a very distinctive style of penmanship that is well-known by all his former co-workers and students.
Randy and I had been colleagues in the Jim Thorpe Area School District for many years. Now we are both retired and finding time for trivial pursuits. Mine involves writing newspaper columns and apparently Randy's involves cutting out my columns and saving them for years.
Inside the envelope I found almost 100 of my columns. They were neatly cut out of the newspaper. Some of them were from more than 20 years ago when I started writing.
Enclosed with the columns was a short note from Randy, telling me that he has enjoyed my writing through the years and thought that I might want the copies for my scrapbook.
I was very touched. The fact that he had been reading my writing all those years was one thing. But, his persistence at collecting the columns was quite another thing. His generous nature and his interest in an old friend made me smile.
Of course, I sent Randy a note, telling him how much I appreciated receiving the columns. Let's call that the first Valentine tale.
The second tale is actually residing on our refrigerator in the kitchen. It is a piece of 8 1/2 by 11 paper. These words are written on it in bright blue crayon - "Grandma Ginny from Colton" - and a big red heart is the only decoration.
The paper was given to me by our youngest grandson - age 5. He brought it to me while I was having lunch with his Mom in their kitchen. As he handed it to me, he said, "Grandma, this is for you. You can take it home so you can remember that I love you."
I hugged him and told him that I loved the paper. His handwriting and spelling were wonderful. While he was smiling at me, he asked, "Why do you have to leave today?" I said, "I have to go home to Ocala. PopPop misses me and I have work to do there."
He thought for a second and then asked, "Why can't you and PopPop live here with us?" My voice caught in my throat a little as I answered, "You don't have enough room for all our stuff, and this house doesn't have enough bedrooms."
His response brought tears to my eyes. He said, "You can have my bedroom, Grandma."
I have always felt that real love relies on sacrifice. If you are willing to give up something that you need or want so that someone else can have something, you are showing true love.
My mind was revolving around the fact that my grandson loved me enough to give up his bedroom for me. He loves his bedroom. It has animal pictures everywhere, stuffed animals, and lots of toys. It has a "big boy" single bed that replaced his crib not too long ago. It also has his beloved collection of little plastic animals that he plays with daily.
Telling me that he would give me his bedroom was an act of sincere sacrifice. Of course, I immediately hugged him and said, "I wish we could live together, too, but Grandma and PopPop have their own house and we have to live there. But, I promise I will come back for a visit soon."
As Colton ran off to play, my daughter and I looked at each other with teary eyes. The moment was broken when Colton yelled from the playroom, "Mom, may I have more orange juice?"
Thinking of these two events - the cut-out columns from an old friend and the offer of a bedroom from my grandson - made me want to write this column.
Showing love is pretty simple. Do something that satisfies a need in the other person. Give a foot-rub. Turn off the TV and play a game of Scrabble. Wash the dishes and clean the bathrooms. Take some homemade soup to a sick friend. Or, cut out 20 years' worth of columns for a buddy. Or, offer to give your Grandma your beloved bedroom.
Then, on Valentine's Day, you might actually know what real love is.
If you would like to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her e mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of this newspaper.