With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, it’s time for a special love story. My thanks goes to Murray Clarke for sending this in:
Roses are Red
Violet, ninety-six, stared thoughtfully out of the window, a tear in her eye. The other senior citizens in the room were either asleep, reading or watching television. It may have been Valentine’s Day, but there wasn’t a card in sight. It had been a long time since the residents of the care home had received a romantic card from anyone.
Memories came flooding back of the happy times enjoyed when she was young. She smiled to herself. Those were the days. World War Two. Food rationing was the order of the day, but everyone rallied around and supported each other. Violet was just twenty years old – her whole life spread out in front of her like uncharted territory. She was so pretty, long blonde hair flowing down to her waist. Sapphire blue eyes. Full of fun and vitality. Always laughing.
Oh yes! Violet smiled again – she’d had her fair share of admirers . . . and Valentine’s cards; many of them handmade. Tall handsome men declared their undying love for her. Bunches of flowers, chocolates, jewellery – even silk stockings from the American G.I.s. Some of the Valentine cards were signed only with a kiss; smitten young men too bashful to reveal their names!
Boyfriends came and went. But no serious relationships . . . until the day she met Jacko in late 1944 — Squadron Leader Jack Gibson. She remembered how dashing the young pilot had looked in his smartly pressed dark blue RAF uniform. Every bit an officer and a gentleman. She fell madly in love with him from the moment she saw him.
Violet remembered their first proper date, just before Christmas 1944. Jacko had arranged to meet at a dance in the local village hall. He walked in, a beaming smile on his kindly face. In his hand he grasped a huge bunch of the finest red roses Violet had ever seen. ‘For a lovely lady,’ Jacko said, gallantly. No man had ever given her red roses before!
And, later, when he bent down to kiss her, his neatly trimmed moustache tickled her face and made her squeal with girlish delight. Violet recalled the fun she’d had dancing the night away in his arms. Happy, happy memories!
‘Jacko, you were my only true love,’ Violet said out loud.
‘Did you say something, Violet, my dear?’ A carer was walking past and shook her head: talking to herself again!
Violet and Jacko enjoyed a blissful few weeks in each other’s company, and then one morning, the following February, he took off in his single-engine aeroplane on a flight to France . . . And disappeared. Violet was heartbroken and prayed that Jacko, one day, would return to her loving arms. But he never did, and she remained a spinster for the rest of her life.
Violet let out a long loud sigh, remembering what might have been. It was at that moment that she happened to glance down. She gasped. Lying on the small wooden coffee table beside her, she saw a beautiful bouquet of red roses. A handwritten card was pinned to them. Violet bent down and read the message: “To Violet. Love you always, my darling. Jacko xx”
A tear came into her eye. ‘Oh, Jacko, you’ve not forgotten me,’ she whispered.
‘Everything okay, Violet?’ The carer had returned.
‘It’s Jack – he’s remembered me on Valentine’s Day,’ she replied with glee, and pointed towards the coffee table.
The carer, Linda, looked, a blank expression on her face.
‘Don’t you see – the red roses?’ insisted Violet.
Linda rested her hand lightly on Violet’s shoulder. ‘There’s nothing there, my dear. Now, why don’t you come and sit over there with the others? There’s a romantic World War Two film about to start. I think you’ll enjoy it.’
POSTSCRIPT: AN INTERNAL MEMO, CIRCULATED LATER, STATED: SQUADRON LEADER JACK (JACKO) GIBSON HAD TAKEN OFF FROM AN AIRFIELD IN DORSET ON A SECRET RECONNAISANCE MISSION TO FRANCE. HIS SPITFIRE WAS SHOT DOWN BY ENEMY FIRE SOMEWHERE OVER THE ENGLISH CHANNEL. HIS BODY WAS NEVER RECOVERED.
DATE: 14th. FEBRUARY 1945. VALENTINE’S DAY.