“Appreciation”

Roger was a sheriff’s deputy, and he often was surprised at work; but this time, the surprise was wonderful. His boss, the newly-appointed sheriff, acknowledged Roger’s years of service in a morning meeting. Folks down here in the South sure worked hard, and they took care of their own.

Still, Roger was exhausted but couldn’t think of retiring. His work was his life.

What surprised Roger most was the fact he received two airline tickets to New York City. He told his wife, Melissa, the news, and she was overjoyed. She couldn’t remember the last time they’d had a decent vacation. All those years of service had worn them out.

On the appointed day, Roger proudly handed their two tickets to the agent at the airport. Melissa could hardly contain herself. The COVID-19 pandemic had finally come to an end, plus they were going to a city they’d heard about their whole lives.

During the flight, Melissa dreamed of all the walking they would do in Manhattan. She guessed that different parts of the city each had their own nuance. All the sights and smells—she just couldn’t imagine it, but she didn’t mind thinking of the possibilities.

In their short trip, Roger and Melissa saw the Statue of Liberty up close. They tried a few restaurants after much debate. “You’d think these damn Yankees would have fewer restaurants. Sure would help to decide where to eat,” Roger said.

Melissa chose to ignore that remark. “C’mon, Roger, let’s go to the zoo,” Melissa said and consulted her travel brochures.

“Really? Don’t you think we see enough animals back home?” Roger said. One look at Melissa told Roger he’d messed up. He gave himself a sermon and determined not to be such a killjoy.

They both enjoyed the zoo, and Roger arranged for them to get a tour of some famous theaters. They saw a play on Broadway on their last evening.

One of their sons called them that night as they readied themselves for bed.

“How are you doing, Pop?” Sanford said.

“We’re doing well. What’s going on with you?” Roger said.

“Terrie has been asking if you’ll be home for her recital on Tuesday. She also wanted to tell you she appreciates you, but I told her she had to go to bed, and I’d tell you.”

“Wow,” Roger said, “six years old and she already uses the word ‘appreciates.’”

“I guess she got it from me. I told her mom I appreciate her, and so she used it on you,” Sanford said.

Roger did some quick thinking. His son had taught him to start appreciating things and people himself.

“And I appreciate all of you,” Roger said. “Especially your mom,” he directed the last sentence at his wife, who’d heard the whole conversation through the speaker phone.

Melissa talked to their son for a few minutes, then hung up. Roger told her he’d be right back, and he left to go to the lobby. There the concierge handed him the crystal vase full of large red roses. Roger paid for them, gave the guy a nice tip, and brought the roses to Melissa.

“Oh my gosh, they’re so beautiful,” Melissa said.

“Glad you like them honey,” her husband said.

“Why the surprise tonight? I mean, I’m so glad you gave me some flowers. I appreciate you, too, Roger.”

“These roses are supposed to ask for forgiveness for being such a clod. You’ve been with me all those years and never complained. I don’t deserve a wonderful wife, but I wouldn’t be able to leave you if I wanted to,” Roger said. He thought for another minute or two, then pronounced the trip a success.

“It’s just a shame it took coming to New York for me to appreciate you. Sorry, honey,” he said and hugged her.

“No problem,” Melissa said, “because you know how I appreciate you.”

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