A Tale of Hearts Not Just for the Romantic

Digital Camera  Been illustrating a fun project this week… True life tearooms dotting the English landscape!  This one reminds me of a lovely surprise Valentine by the sea.   🙂  Won’t you wander with me through the Cotswolds, Selworthy and Devon, here?  People and Landscapes After the English Heart


     A different sort of Valentine, bubble-protected in an unexpected manila envelope,  slipped into my mail box yesterday.  No note… but with tell-tale West Coast address on the outside…in the writing of an old family friend.   One whose family grew up with ours, spent many a day and vacation and holiday together.   Mertzes to our Ricardos, only kids on both sides.

Cutting away the paper edge, my fingers tugged at the red tissue folded and seemingly stuck within.  Until there it was… a simple message of friendship, no words needed.  Just a piece of square cable-stitched knit, with a heart-woven design… like a swatch from a beautiful cream-colored Irish sweater… in my hand.

I held it on my palm, soft as a snowflake threaded with loving care.

A memory of  last Valentine’s Day flitted, unbid, across my mind…  Dad’s first day in a dark and dreary rehab room after three weeks of hospital deterioration.  The cheery, heavy-accented nurse who coaxed actual smiles out of him with her geared-to-get-him-out-of-himself chatter.

“Ju know – it’s balentine’s day, ‘oney?” she bustled round him, snipping his fingernails lightning quick ahead of his outburst against such ministering, and striking me with awe at her nimble dexterity with the gruff and resistant.   Her joyous effervescence.

And Daniel…the crusty, barnacle-hearted 90-year old over on the other side of the room.  Deeply deaf to the point of loudly barking every word he enunciated, gravel-throated, grousing and spewing his anger at his circumstances and over all who would pay him any mind.   Justified in many ways, as I was to discover with the unpalatable food he was served that caused him no end of problems.  And his dark loneliness at being stuck there, alone most of the time. Unabashedly coming down on us to his visiting daughter for us “spoiling dad” with our 12-hour day attentions, spitting those words out like distasteful morsels.   Yet, somehow… maybe with a touch of, ‘wish you would be here more,’ too?

“I was a policeman in Maryland for forty-five years,” he later pronounced several times  to us in his overbearing, stentorian tones.  “When my wife died, I raised my two little girls all by myself!  This food is a swill bucket in here…!”  He glanced up at me as if over spectacles, a look of disdain and false bravado, I’m sure I have you whippersnappers stumped, in his eyes.  “Do you know what a swill bucket is?” he snarled.

I gave him the definition.  “Well,” he spluttered, “you got it.  That’s what this place is!”

That afternoon, my sister and I stopped at Hallmark on the way back from lunch.  Not for one…but two cards.  Plus a  third I’d tucked into my purse.  One of those kid-style, cutout kind of heart message I’d bought a package of to wing back home to some little boys I know.

A “Thank you for your wonderful cheer” card to the nurse.  She simply smiled and tucked it away in her apron, unopened.

A “Happy Valentine’s to a wonderful Father,” along with his favorite of Snoopy, to brighten a drab bedside table for Dad.   He read it with care.

The old-fashioned “Just stopping by with a Valentine ‘Hi!'” cutout in it’s reminiscent of school days tiny envelope… to Daniel.

Feeling a bit intimidated but pushed by the One who called him by name and wanted to give him a tiny sign of that, I stepped across the beds to place on his table.  His stern eyes met mine, flickered softness for a microsecond.  A grunt, a nod.  Later, a smile of wonder from his daughter who had stopped in.  “Daddy, isn’t that nice?” she said loudly, behind the curtain.

“Grumble grumble,” he acknowledged. Still… for that moment,  I thought just maybe I detected the slight sound of ice cracking, just round the edges.

Now, holding this handmade knit Valentine in my hand, I’m reminded…  The world would have us believe this is a day just for starry eyed couples.

It is… partly.

But… how much more is it a day when God is whispering…

This one over here…. they could use an unexpected bit of lace and love.   A memento of friendship… a knowing someone cares…a thank you for ordinary services.

A rose in the form of an envelope they can slit open.

A blessing in the shape of paper and heart, cookies frosted pink, a phone call out of the blue.

A you are loved reminder in a written prayer tucked inside a note and wrapped with a ribbon…

You still have two days until Valentine’s…  Is there someone – even a relative stranger (maybe a clerk who is always helpful at a store?) — who might be tickled by your thoughtfulness?

I was skim-reading an interesting and genuine and humor-laced book yesterday — Giving Candy to Strangers by Stan Holden ( http://givingcandytostrangers.com/ ) – about making connections in this great big world of ours.  Not just for what we might get.  But what we might give.  The author pointed out how small children can run onto a park playground and make instant friends with strangers round the swing set.   How we’ve lost that as wary adults.  But… he suggested… what might happen if you found yourself in a crowded Starbucks for example, and looking around the room you began to think of each one there as one of your family or friends you hadn’t seen in awhile? How might your thoughts of them change and soften?  How might you greet them with a genuinely warm smile?  What might you say?   What new friends might you discover?


hope your Valentine's Day was filled with love and a littleWho might need some Valentine ‘chocolates’ from you and I today?  🙂    What if we really ponder that and come up with some deliveries between now and Sunday?  Like my knitted gift… sometimes, words aren’t even needed.


© Pam Depoyan

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About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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20 Responses to A Tale of Hearts Not Just for the Romantic

  1. Mary Quiroz says:

    Beautiful Pammy! A sweet memory of last year w your dad 🙂 Thanks for your prayers- happy Valentines Day! XO Mary

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Karlene says:

    A beautiful, sweet story here! Thinking myself of those I know who could use some special love and attention on Valentine’s Day. So glad to be visiting from #FaithFilledFriday where we’re neighbors today.

  3. lynndmorrissey says:

    Pam, this exquisite Valentine offering brought tears to my eyes on many levels….especially b/c my father suffered so much for fifteen years, the last five months in a hospital and nursing home in such pain and indignity. He was so gruff in the end, with tender moments interspersed. He mainly couldn’t stand the hospital staff. And no wonder: They were unkind and uncaring, and even bordered hurting him at times through rough handlng. I was Daddy’s advocate and though I stood my ground when I felt he was being ill-treated, I took to bringing them my husband’s famous chocolate-chip cookies each time we came. I know they had seen a lot of hardship and had steeled themselves to it. But those cookies, like your Valentine, began to melt their hard hearts. This also reminds me of a man we met in our old neighborhood who had no friends, was disheveled and often seemed reclusive and unfriendly. I don’t have time to detail it here, but I began to send him cards by post (Valentin-ish), and they broke through the barriers he’d erected (which later, I learned from his brother, were b/c of a nervous breakdown he’d had in his youth). So keep writing your Valentines, creating your art and sending it off. There’s a whole world out there aching for a little love.
    Happy Valentine’s Day.

    • Well, all you’ve shared here leaves me misty, too, Lynn. I can relate to all that hospital stuff… and you are right, I’ll bet those cookies were just the touch of kindness and thoughtfulness that the nursing staff really needed in that moment too. The story of your neighbor reminds me of stories I always loved on old shows like Father Knows Best… they taught me to look behind the gruffness for the reasons and hearts. I love that you wrote to him and broke through! You are so right, Lynn… a whole world out there aching for a little love. In that book I was reading, the author was saying how it is natural for us to sometimes feel like crowds of people are just in our way, but also how important to stop and consider them as people who may just need a smile… and how it can alter our own hearts to be more aware that way… Mm… Happy Valentine’s to you too!

  4. Cathy says:

    Beautiful story Pam. Thanks for sharing.

    Love the crochet-work!

  5. Cindi says:

    so much truth there, and so much love. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!

  6. happytiler says:

    What terrific artist and writer you are! Your words mesmerized me..such a loving sentiment for Valentines day. Such kindness is always needed, thankfully angels like you can be so infectious!! Thanks for sharing…I adore that romantic cottage too….what a lovely gift that square is!

    Hugs Giggles

    • Thank you, Giggles… let us all be as His ministering ‘angels’ in the sense you say! I’m so glad you like this romantic cottage too! I am always caught by these storybook places of England, too….though I’ve not been there in person yet. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  7. Carrie says:

    Aren’t handmade gifts the best? That’s what got me started on my writing journey – crafting my own handmade cards. What a lovely surprise from an old friend. Gets me thinking…maybe I’ll make my children homemade Valentine’s cards? I still have a little time! Thank you for inspiring me!

  8. The memories that linger brought out in text and art. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  9. Dea Lenihan says:

    Lovely story 🙂 I love your image–so well done. Have a great weekend. ox

    • Thank you, Dea. Bittersweet memories… I’m glad you like the drawing! I have never been to England but have been attracted to much about it since childhood (books and movies etc). I love drawing these quaint and charming cottages. So amazing that they have so many as tearooms… shows the importance of that endearing tradition to the British… Happy Valentine’s to you!

  10. Eileen says:

    Pam, Thank you for your sharing about Daniel, and your loving gift of the Valentine card for him. Sometimes all that people need in this world, is a little love… And our sharing our love,with them, may enable them to see God in us, and to come to have a wonderful, personal relationship with Jesus. We ARE the only Jesus that some people may ever see. He lives in us, and in our actions, and Jesus can use this to draw others to Him! Thank God! We can be His instruments! We have that gift and privilege. On this Valentine’s Day, thank you for reminding all of us, of that! God bless, you, Pam, and the happiest of Valentine’s Days to you. Your friend, Eileen

    • Thank you, Eileen. That’s so true. I think of him often and don’t even know if he is still alive. He was so miserable. Last I knew of him, he had moved out of the rehab and back to assisted living, but he didn’t even like that. I pray for him and his daughters… Hope your day was blessed yesterday! My computer broke down yesterday so not sure when I will be posting here again, but checking my email at library for now.

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