A Story for Valentine's Day... and Any Other Day

February 13, 2014


Larry and Jo Ann were an ordinary couple. They lived in an ordinary house on an ordinary street. Like other ordinary couples, they struggled to make ends meet and to do the right things for their children.
They were ordinary in yet another way – they had their squabbles. Much of their conversation concerned what was wrong in their marriage and who was to blame.
Until one day, when a most extraordinary event took place.
“You know, Jo Ann, I’ve got a magic chest of drawers. Every time I open them, they’re full of socks and underwear,” Larry said. “I want to thank you for filling them all these years.”
Jo Ann stared at her husband over the top of her glasses. “What do you want, Larry?”
“Nothing. I just want you to know I appreciate those magic drawers.”
This wasn’t the first time Larry had done something odd, so Jo Ann pushed the incident out of her mind until a few days later.
“Jo Ann, thank you for recording so many correct check numbers in the ledger this month. You put down the right number 15 out of 16 times. That’s a record.”
Disbelieving what she had heard, Jo Ann looked up from her mending: “Larry, you’re always complaining about my recording the wrong check numbers. Why stop now?”
“No reason. I just wanted you to know I appreciate the effort you’re making.”
Jo Ann shook her head and went back to her mending. “What’s gotten into him?” she mumbled to herself.
Nevertheless, the next day when Jo Ann wrote a check at the grocery store, she glanced at her check numbers to confirm that she had put down the right check number. “Why do I suddenly care about those dumb check numbers? She asked herself.
She tried to disregard the incident, but Larry’s strange behavior intensified.
“Jo Ann, that was a great dinner,” he said one evening. “I appreciate all your effort. Why, in the past 15 years I’ll bet you’ve fixed over 14,00 meals for me and the kids.”
Then “Gee, Jo Ann, the house looks spiffy. You’ve really worked hard to get it looking so good.” And even “Thanks, Jo Ann, for just being you. I really enjoy your company.”
Jo Ann was growing worried.  “Where’s the sarcasm, the criticism? she wondered.
Her fears that something peculiar was happening to her husband were confirmed by 16 year-old Shelly, who complained, “Dad’s gone bonkers, Mom. He just told me I looked nice. With all this makeup and these sloppy clothes, he still said it. That’s not Dad, Mom. What’s wrong with him?”
Whatever was wrong, Larry didn’t get over it. Day in and day out he continued focusing on the positive. Over the weeks, Jo Ann grew more used to her mate’s unusual behavior, and occasionally even gave him a grudging “Thank you.” She prided herself on taking it all in stride, until one day something so peculiar happened, she became completely discombobulated:
“I want you to take a break,” Larry said. “I am going to do the dishes. So please take your hands off that frying pan and leave the kitchen.”
(Long, long pause.) “Thank you, Larry. Thank you very much!”
Jo Ann’s step was now a little lighter, her self-confidence higher, and once in a while she hummed. She didn’t seem to have as many blue moods much anymore. “I rather like Larry’s new behavior,” she thought.
That would be the end of the story except one day another most extraordinary event took place. This time it was Jo Ann who spoke.
“Larry,” she said, “I want to thank you for going to work and providing for us all these years. I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I appreciate it.”
Larry has never revealed the reason for his drastic change of behavior no matter how hard Jo Ann has pushed for an answer, and so it will likely remain one of life’s mysteries. But it’s one I’m thankful to live with.
You see, I am Jo Ann.

                                                                                                                                                                    by Jo Ann Larsen 
                                                                            Desert News (February 10, 1985)
                                                                                                                                        




Cheers to this ordinary, everyday love
The one that takes extraordinary work, compassion, vulnerability and appreciation. 



~ vanilla marshmallow by Butter
~ melted chocolate recipe here
~ almond cake by The Invisible Chef






Sharing with Home Sweet HomeBe InspiredPink Saturday



23 comments

  1. I'm so glad you shared that old story. I read it many years ago and had not thought of it until seeing your post. There are many lessons therein.

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  2. Hermosa la historia y muy bellas las fotos, realmente preciosas!
    Un fuerte abrazo.

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  3. We change when others around us change, and vice-versa. My father with whom I never got along, told me once in tears after I got married: "I have changed because I have seen that you have changed." He died not long after that.

    We are all we have, yet inside of us is a force beyond our understanding. But it becomes clear when we act upon it, then all is revealed. Thank you for this story dear Sylvia, and your PHOTOS ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Such a beautiful story, accompanied by beautiful photos and messages to take to heart...

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  5. What a beautiful post in every way!

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  6. Thanks to Elizabeth for sharing this! I love it and the photography is lovely.

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  7. If you could just see me now with the tears running down my face dear Sylvia. This was a gift my dear!!! I am grateful everyday for the love that my husband and I share and how wonderfully extraordinarily ordinary it is. Today this post has reiterated how blessed I am, so thank you!
    Beautiful photos---beautiful story!
    sending hugs for Valentine's Day...

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  8. Thank you for sharing the great story of love and the wonderful fun photos. We all need to appreciate the simple everyday things we take so much for granted. I'm so fortunate, my husband is so kind to everyone, no matter what the circumstances. I sometimes pray to have his patience and understanding. Happy Valentines Day to You and Yours.

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  9. Thanks for the sweet story about the poweful affect gratitude and kindness has people we live with.
    Gail

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  10. What a delightful article and it is a reminder to me how important it is to show gratitude. The pictures are lovely, you are a wonderful photographer.

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  11. Bless you dear heart. Thank you for coming to visit and our stories are written on earth and read in heaven. I believe that. HUGS! Anita

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  12. Elegant photos and beautiful story! So often we take our family members for granted and forget to compliment them for the everyday things they do. Thank you for sharing!

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  13. Oh no...I can't see what I'm typing...my eyes are full of tears... :) Thank you, dear sister, for this beautiful dose of love.
    It really is so simple, isn't? But like the sweet commenter above states...taking those close to you for granted is all too easy...and we must tend to our relationship and personal "gardens" lovingly each and every day.
    Thank you, darling Sylvia, for such a poignant post.
    Not to mention the EXQUISITE photographs... :)
    You are a blessing, and I thank you so much for coming over to visit me. I know what you mean regarding the Opening Ceremonies...as delightful as most of it was, other parts were hard to watch...

    Sending much LOVE to you,
    - Irina

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  14. Beautiful story and photos! The story reminds me of the movie Fireproof ~ a good movie for all married couples.

    Carolyn

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  15. I enjoyed reading your story Sylvia! Beautiful photographs!!!

    Have a lovely week!

    Madelief x

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  16. Oh that is wonderful. Have you seen the new movie called About Time. It reminds me of this. Everyday can be extraordinary if you just look at it that way.
    Sherry

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  17. I find this a very sweet and precious story, I found you from The Charm of Home; I love to read something so uplifting and sweet. Really all our days can be extraordinary and not ordinary, if we choose LOVE and Gratefulness!
    Blessings, Roxy

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  18. Hello Silvija, I am over from dear Irina's blog. Oh my what a story you have posted...how very beautiful!

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  19. Such a sweet reminder to
    let those we love know who
    much we appreciate them....

    And for me, to let YOU know
    how much I appreciate your
    beautiful spirit, words and photos!

    xo Suzanne

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  20. I'm so glad to find your blog and you're such a good photographer!

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  21. Just popping in to wish you Happy Spring, dear sister!
    Hope all is well with you...
    Much love,
    - Irina

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  22. Beautiful flowers and photographs. What kind of camera do you use? I'm on the search for a good one!

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