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  • Columbia River Gallery

A Valentine Story

It was December 1992 and the phone rang.

"Hello?" Silence.

Again I said, "Hello?" Then just as I was about to hang up I heard a slow creaky voice say my name and then I remembered. I always had to assume it might be Grandma calling if I didn't get a quick reply.

She had called to inform me that she intended to come and stay a couple of days with us at our house. It was a surprising given the fact that she only lived a few miles away across town in her own home and managed pretty well, despite the fact that she didn't drive.

She said she wanted to come spend some quality time with my husband and I and our three young children, ages 2, 3 and 6.

"When would you like to come, Grandma?"

"This week"

"Oh! Okay...sure, we'd love to have you come."

So Grandma spent the weekend with us, watching the kids play, sharing meals and telling stories. It was kind of wonderful. At one point she pulled out a vintage old Valentine. It was lacey and folded open for a pop-up effect.

Inside the fold was the word "innocence".

I admired it and handed it back to her. She told me, "Mother gave this to me when I was 10 years old. And HER mother gave it to her when she was 10 years old!"

"Whaaaat? Wow! Let me see that again!" I couldn't believe she had saved it all those years and thought to bring it along to show me 75 years later. She was 85 now.

The next morning, we discovered my 3 year old daughter had found where she laid it and was "admiring it" as well....or actually had just begun to tear it into pieces! Grandma and I gasped simultaneously and yes, we both cried.

I spent the rest of the day, teary eyed, carefully repairing the lace from behind. Despite the missing sections, it turned out pretty well, though it will never be the same.

I dropped Grandma off at home with her precious Valentine. The next day she called to say she'd made a decision. She decided my destructive child should be the next recipient of the Valentine...when she turned 10.

"Are you sure Grandma? I mean....I don't know if she'll be ready to take care of it by the time she's 10" But she had made up her mind. It would be passed down to my daughter on her 10th birthday and she is to pass it down to her own daughter on her 10th birthday.

As it turns out, Grandma passed away only a few short weeks later. She must have sensed her time was short. I'm so glad she insisted on the visit and special time we had together! And as for the Valentine?

Well, you KNOW I had to frame it...preserve it...protect it for future generations!

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