Guest post by Helen Warner
Author of The Story of Our Lives
I learnt a very important lesson on Valentine’s Day about 30 years ago.
My then boyfriend, Rob, (now my husband) did not send flowers to the all-female university halls of residence where I was living. Throughout the day, all around me, girls were delightedly taking delivery of huge bouquets with squeals of excitement and sighs of pleasure, as they read the accompanying cards to an enraptured and nakedly envious audience.
I patiently awaited my call to the Porter’s Lodge, only slightly irritated on Rob’s behalf that they were so late but certain, nonetheless, that they would be arriving.
But by around 3pm, I was losing patience and a niggle of doubt had started to creep into a corner of my mind that maybe he hadn’t sent any after all. By 4pm, the niggle had become a fact and my reaction was one which shames me to this day. I was furious! I wanted to show off to my house-mates that I had a devoted boyfriend who sent gorgeous flowers on Valentine’s Day and felt cheated that I couldn’t.
Those were the days before mobile phones, so we were reliant on one pay-phone in a communal area to make and receive calls. I got the shout that Rob was on the phone and trudged huffily to the common room to speak to him.
“Happy Valentine’s Day!” he said, his voice warm and happy.
I grunted some kind of ungracious reply.
“Did you get anything delivered today?” he continued, apparently oblivious to my bad temper.
“No.” I snapped back.
There was a long pause. “Nothing at all?” he prompted.
“No – nothing at all!”
“Oh, no!” Rob sounded utterly crestfallen. “But I ordered flowers for you. I can’t believe they didn’t turn up.”
“Really?” I felt a combination of embarrassment and suspicion. “Why would they not have turned up?”
“I don’t know. I’m going to phone the flower shop now and find out. I’ll see you later.” He hung up sounding miserable.
About 30 minutes later, I got the call from the Porter’s Lodge and arrived to find a rather tatty bouquet, obviously made up from what was left on the flower shop floor after their busiest day of the year. Clearly Rob’s order had gone astray.
That evening Rob arrived to take me out to dinner as planned and we both looked at the tired collection of blooms sitting dejectedly on my desk. “Sorry for being grumpy,” I said sheepishly. “I thought you hadn’t sent any.”
Rob pulled me into a hug. “The thing is, sending rip-off flowers on Valentine’s Day isn’t important though, is it? Surely what’s important is doing thoughtful things for each other every day without any kind of fanfare.”
He was right of course, and I made him promise that he would never send flowers on Valentine’s Day again. To this day I’m pleased to say he never has and I don’t mind one little bit.
Title: The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 432 pages
They think nothing can tear their bond apart, until a long-buried secret threatens to destroy everything.
Every year they have met up for a vacation, but their time away is much more than just a bit of fun. Over time, it has become a lifesaver, as each of them struggles with life’s triumphs and tragedies.
Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa have been best friends since they were girls. They have seen each other through everything—from Sophie’s private fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside marriage that starts to reveal troubling warning signs, to Melissa’s spiraling alcoholism, to questions that are suddenly bubbling up around the paternity of Emily’s son. But could a lie that spans just as long as their friendship be the thing that tears them apart?
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