FROM MY BEST FRIEND ISABELLA
Before I joined the mad world of the airline business, I worked as a nurse in an aged care home. A lovely man, George, who had been placed in the home by his family, was a really sad story. Nobody ever came to see him. One day he stopped talking and refused to leave his room. He was co-operative enough with the staff and functional enough to take care for himself. He continued to eat and shower, but he became a mute recluse sitting alone in his room all day, staring out the window. The staff decided he had the right to live as he wished and left him alone.
A woman resident, Maggie, had taken an interest in George, and when he disappeared, she went to his room for a visit. He didn't seem to mind but he didn't respond either. She had started working on a quilt and bit by bit she moved her handiwork into his room. She spent her days sewing and telling him her life story, while he sat staring out the window. She had a million stories and was happy to have someone listen to her. No-one knew what he thought as the months went by.
When Maggie finished the quilt, it was put on display and everyone commented on how beautiful it was.
The same week the quilt was finished, George passed away.
In a drawer in his room, staff found an envelope marked "To Be Opened When I Die" The note inside had one line "Tell Maggie I love her". When they told her, she cried for days. She had loved him too and had finished the quilt just as an excuse to sit with him every day.
I believe he was buried wrapped in Maggie's quilt.
Kate, you wanted really short love stories. This one's long but small. I go to Bridge Road in Richmond almost every Saturday morning to shop at the market and carry on a love affair.
For four years now I've bought flowers from a young woman who is a refugee from somewhere in Asia. For one thing she has the freshest and most beautiful flowers. For another, she is a fresh and beautiful flower herself. I don't know her name, nor she mine. We don't speak the same language. To her, I'm sure I'm just another customer.
In Spring she's there with daffodils and irises. She's Summer with roses and sunflowers, She's Autumn with dahlias and chrysanthemums. And then it's over. In Winter, God I miss her.
When we exchange flowers and money, I always try to briefly and slyly, touch her hand. I always insist she keep the change and she always insists on giving me an extra flower.
Once I tried to buy all her flowers at once, but she vigorously shook her head. "No". I don't know why. Maybe she too is in love with someone and wants to be there to sell him flowers when he comes.
ABOUT SAM AND MARGARET (my paternal grandparents)
My grandpop painted my gran's toenails. I was there when he started doing it.
The entire family was up in the Dandenongs to celebrate my parent's wedding anniversary.
Gran was always a beauty queen to us. She was really pretty. She liked facials and makeup and perfume. She always painted her fingernails and toenails. But one day when we were sitting out near the pool, I noticed that for the first time, her toenails weren't painted. I asked her why and she said she was getting too old and stiff to get down that far and she thought it was foolish to go to a beauty shop to get them done.
My grandpop was a big, gruffy, man's man who played rugby when he was younger. I was really surprised when he spoke up and told gran that he would be happy to paint her toenails for her. When gran asked him why he would want to do that, he said -
"It's because I love you, always have, always will, and I want you to feel beautiful as long as you live."
FROM MY BROTHER DAVID
I don't know if this qualifies as a love story or not.
When I was going through puberty, I did what most young boys do. I got a pile of very sleazy and much used girlie magazines from an older kid at school and kept them hidden under my mattress where I was sure no-one would ever find them.
One day I noticed that several of the magazines were gone and someone had replaced them with much newer and higher quality magazines. The girls were much prettier. I was really excited and also very embarrassed. Either my mum or my dad or my younger sister had done it. No-body ever said anything and I was too scared to ask. This happened every once in a while for a couple of years.
To this day I don't know who tended to my magazine collection. I guess I don't want to know. I like to think that anyone in my family loved me enough to understand my adolescence and not make a fuss about my normal sexuality or embarrass me.
One of the pilots at work came to me one day and gave me an envelope. Perfumed. The kind used for personal correspondence. Remember that? He said "Kate, before you read it, you should know that I've had it for at least 20 years, that it was from my wife to whom I'm still married." Inside the envelope was a matching sheet of stationery with these words written on it ;
I hate you, I hate you, I hate you
Respectfully, with all my love Anne
I looked at him expecting more. "Umm. That's it" He said and walked away.
FINALLY ONE FROM ME
I was in my twenties and had just gotten divorced from an abusive husband. I wasn't feeling very lovable or attractive at the time. I was driving to work.
I pulled up at a traffic light and a newish grey car pulled up to the right of me. In the car was the most handsome man I had ever seen ... no-one ever looked that good to me.
I hoped he wasn't going to turn right at the lights. He didn't. He looked over at me and smiled. I was instantly in love with this man, but a few streets later he turned right and I turned left.
I then knew that there was life after divorce even if it was only a minute at a traffic light.
It's been a few years ago now and sometimes I will pass that intersection. Whenever I do, I think of the man who smiled at me. He'll never know he's so highly thought of by someone he only smiled at.
Thanks again for reading these. They all mean so much to me. I hope you enjoyed them.