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I’ve always had a little trouble remembering Jeff’s birth date. I always got April, but I’d get confused about whether it was the 24th or 25th. Pretty much every year, I would pride myself on getting it right, and end up getting it wrong again.
I’d give him his card first thing in the morning, or maybe stealthily add it to his lunch bag. And then he’d look at me or text me, “Thank you. My birthday is tomorrow.” “I know,” I’d respond. “I just wanted to be the first.” Of course, Jeff knew better, but he never embarrassed me by saying so. I’d just make sure to run out for another card for the next morning.
In 2012, I did something that I felt required notifying Jeff’s family. It was after the fact, but still important so I broke the ice with a short email. “Thinking of you and Jeff today,” I wrote. The response I received was graciously humorous and something to the effect of, “I’m sure Jeff will be having lunch with Dale Earnhardt in heaven, tomorrow.”
Early on in our relationship, I started calling Jeff ‘Sweet Pea.’ Always privately, mostly on the phone and mostly at the end of our week night conversations. I’d say, “Goodnight sweet pea, love you.” He’d say, “Goodnight, I love you, too.”
If you think that would sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth, it did. And, it came out with an accidentally adapted light pseudo-southern/Nashvillian accent to boot.
I never thought much about how he’d feel about it. But, he never objected or said anything about it, either.
About two years into Michigan, Jeff pointed out to me my accent wasn’t as bad. “What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Your accent,” he repeated. “I don’t speak any differently than I ever did,” I protested.
“Uh, huh,” Jeff nodded, retrieving his cell phone from his pocket. He dialed emphatically, and handed it to me. “Just listen…” he advised.
And there I was listening to a two-year prior version of me deeply twanging my way through a typical voicemail greeting.
At a Flea Market one afternoon, I noticed an oversized cup with a flowery design and the words ‘Sweet Pea’ in an equally flowery font.
“I think I’ll buy you this cup for your birthday,” I teased. Jeff laughed, “Well, it is my birth flower.”
“Your what?” I asked. “My birth flower – it’s the sweet pea – it’s the April flower.”
“Really?” I countered. “I didn’t know that!” He laughed again, but stopped short a few steps later.
“Wait,” he said as he turned to face me. “Why did you call me that then?
“I don’t know,” I said. “It just … popped out. Must have been that southern influence…”
“Well, I like it,” He confessed sincerely with his usual wide grin.
I smiled, too. I’m still smiling, actually.
Even as I say out loud tonight, “Happy Birthday in Heaven, Sweet Pea.”
Quote for the Week:
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:
There’s a flower for that: Actually, there are 2
Don’t Eat Them: Truly
Beautiful: But, finicky