I was 18, about to start college and broke. To make some money, I plodded down a
quiet street of older homes, selling books door-to-door. As I approached one
gate, a tall, handsome woman in her 80s came to the gate in her bath robe.
''There you are darling! I've been waiting for you! God told me you'd be coming
today." Mrs. Link needed help around her yard and house, and, apparently, I was
the one for. the job. Who was I to argue with God?
The next day I worked for six hours, harder than I had ever worked before. Mrs.
Link showed me how to plant bulbs, what flowers and weeds to pull up, and where
to haul the wilted plants. I finished off the day by mowing the lawn with a
mower that looked like an antique. When I had finished, Mrs. Link complimented
me on my work and looked under the mower at the blade. "Looks like you hit a
stone. I'll get the file." I soon learned why everything Mrs. Link owned looked
like an antique, but worked like brand-new. For six hours of work she gave me a
check for three dollars. It was 1978.
God's funny sometimes, isn't he?
The next week I cleaned Mrs. Link's house. She showed me exactly how to vacuum
her antique Persian rug with
her antique-looking vacuum. As I dusted her beautiful treasures, she told me
where she had acquired them while she traveled the world. For lunch she sautéed
fresh vegetables from her garden. We shared a delicious meal and a lovely day.
Some weeks I got to be a chauffeur. The last gift to Mrs. Link from Mr. Link was
a glorious new car. By the time I met Mrs. Link, the car was 30 years old, but
still glorious. Mrs. Link was never able to have children, but her sister,
nieces and nephews lived nearby. Her neighbors also were fond of her, and she
was active in civic affairs.
A year and a half passed since I met Mrs. Link. School, work and church were
taking up more of my time, and I saw Mrs. Link less and less. I found another
girl to help her around the house. Valentine's Day was coming, and being very
undemonstrative and very broke, I was
compiling a very short list of my valentines.
Mom glanced at my list and said,
''You need to get Mrs. Link a valentine."
I incredulously asked, "Why? Mrs. Link has a lot of family, friends and
neighbors. She's active in the community. I don't even spend a lot of time with
her anymore. Why would Mrs. Link want a valentine from me?"
Mom was unimpressed. "Get Mrs. Link a valentine," she insisted.
On Valentine's Day I self-consciously presented Mrs.Link a small bouquet,
which she graciously accepted.
A couple of months later, I visited Mrs. Link again. Centered on her mantle, in
her living room full of beautiful things, stood my wilted and faded Valentine's
Day bouquet-the only valentine Mrs. Link received that year.
by Susan Daniels Adams
A smile of encouragement at the right moment may act like sunlight
on a closed-up flower; it may be the turning point for a struggling life.