When Florence received an old emerald studded ring from Irene on her 18th birthday, she was anything but impressed by it. The young lady threw her grandma’s present on the ground in disgust, but then it cracked open.
When Florence was a child, she loved visiting Irene’s home during the summer vacations. The poor woman lived in the Texas countryside and worked on a ranch to support herself.
Florence would follow her around, hopping like a bird, sometimes helping her carry the vegetables to the house, and sometimes simply to spend time with her grandmother. But then, she started growing up, and her relationship with Irene changed.
As a teenager, Florence stopped visiting Irene’s house, and if Irene came to New York, she would be constantly irritated by her and press her parents to send her back home. “Mom!” Florence would complain. “Why is grandma staying at our house? Please tell her to go back!”
“You shouldn’t talk about her like that, Florence,” her mother would explain. “She’s your grandma!”
“But she stinks, mom! And she dresses shabbily! All my friends mock me when they see her. Send her home, please!” Florence would insist.
One day, Irene overheard Florence talking about her, and the poor lady sobbed all night in her room. The next day, she left the house saying she needed to return to her home in Texas because a friend had called her, and she never returned to New York after that.
However, every year on Florence’s birthday, she’d send her a gift and call to see if her granddaughter liked it. But Florence hardly cared about it. “I’m sorry, Grandma,” she’d say flatly, “I didn’t have time to see it; I’ll let you know once I check it out!” and then hang up the phone.
When Florence turned 18, she demanded her parents to throw her a lavish birthday party. Florence was a single child, and she meant the world to her parents, so they happily agreed.
However, when it came time to discuss the guest list and Florence objected to Irene’s presence, her parents didn’t support her.
“That’s not right, honey!” her mother said. “Your grandma loves you! We are inviting her!”
“WHAT? NO WAY!” Florence objected. “SHE WILL NOT BE THERE! If she’s there, I am not celebrating my birthday!”
“Enough, Florence,” her father said emphatically. “Do you realize you’re about to cross the line? She’ll come, and you’re going to invite her yourself! Call her right now!”
Florence dialed Irene, but when Irene answered the phone, she pretended the call was not connected and began disparaging her. “See, she’s not answering her phone. Besides, my friends would despise her, Dad. I’ll invite her for your sake, but she won’t come if she has any self-respect left in her!”
Irene heard everything, and that year was the first time she didn’t send Florence a gift on her birthday. However, it wasn’t because of the hurtful words she heard from her granddaughter on the phone.
Florence only received a package from Irene a week after her birthday. With her curiosity brimming as to why her grandmother sent the gift late, she opened it and discovered an antique emerald studded ring. Ahh… Where did she get such a cheap ring? Florence grumbled. Did she really expect me to wear something like this?
“Ughh…Ugly thing!” she exclaimed, tossing it to the ground. But then it cracked open, and a small note fell out. “Look inside the ring’s box; there’s a key inside!” it said.
Is she really thinking of me as a child who enjoys playing games with her? Florence frowned as she checked the box. However, when she lifted the tiny cushion that held the ring in place, she discovered a key and another small note. “Go to the storeroom and open the drawer in your old cupboard.”
Florence followed the instructions, but when she opened the drawer, she was frozen stiff. Inside the cupboard’s drawer was a large box containing a lovely dress, an old photo album, and an envelope addressed to her on the top. Florence opened the letter and began reading.
“Dear Florence,” the letter began. “Many happy returns of the day to you, honey! I apologize for not being able to send your gift on time this year. You know Grandma Irene adores you and will never forget your birthday present.
“Say thanks to your dad who helped me in placing the gift secretly inside the house without letting you know. However, he is unaware that the box holds this letter. If you’re wondering why I sent the gift so late, it’s because I’m sick and in the hospital.
“I was diagnosed with cancer 3 months back, honey, but I didn’t tell you or your parents because I didn’t want to bother you guys. I had a sneaking suspicion that I might never see you again, so I wanted this present to be filled with your favorite things.
“Make sure you check out the photo album. You were so adorable as a kid! Sorry, Grandma Irene embarrassed you all her life. I hope you are happy at least this time. With love, Irene.”
As Florence finished the letter, she dashed over to her parents, teary-eyed. “Mom! Dad!” she cried. “Grandma is in the hospital! We need to go right now!”
“It’s too late, honey,” her mother said, sadness in her eyes. “Your grandma passed away this morning. We received a call just now.”
Florence sank to the ground, sobbing, clutching her grandmother’s letter and filled with regret. The next day, after everyone had gone home from the funeral, she sat next to Irene’s grave, looking through the photo album she’d given her. It was made up of photographs of them taken when Florence visited her home during the summer vacations.
Florence couldn’t fight her tears when she saw how happy her grandmother looked in the photos. Her mind flashed back to all the times Irene had been sweet and generous to her, although she had been acting like a brat her entire life.
Florence returned to Irene’s grave every year after that, but the guilt of not loving Irene never left her. Every night, she’d sit alone in her room, looking through her pictures, sobbing herself to sleep, wishing she’d loved and admired Irene as much as she admired her.
What can we learn from this story?
Act before it’s too late. Florence realized her love for her grandmother, but it was too late by then.
Learn to be kind and respectful. Unlike Florence, who did nothing but ridicule her grandmother all her life.