Dear Readers: Happy Valentine's Day to one and all, along with our special good wishes to all of our veterans in VA hospitals around the country. And our particular thanks and appreciation to those readers who have taken the time to send valentines, visit the vets and volunteer at VA facilities. Bless each and every one of you. You are truly caring and compassionate.
Dear Annie: I'm looking for an essay that appeared in your column a few years ago. It was about an elderly man who was celebrating a birthday. He spent the whole day waiting, but no one came to see him. I visited my mother today in a nursing home. She brought up this column in our conversation, and I promised to try to track it down. Can you help? — Loving Daughter
Dear Daughter: Happy to. Here it is:
It Was Grandfather's Birthday by Rudy Joe Mano (reprinted with permission)
It was Grandfather's birthday. He was 79. He got up early, shaved, showered, combed his hair and put on his Sunday best so he would look nice when they came.
He skipped his daily walk to the town cafe where he had coffee with his cronies. He wanted to be home when they came.
He put his porch chair on the sidewalk so he could get a better view of the street when they drove up to help celebrate his birthday.
At noon, he got tired but decided to forgo his nap so he could be there when they came.
Most of the rest of the afternoon he spent near the telephone so he could answer it when they called.
He has five married children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. One son and a daughter live within 10 miles of his place. They hadn't visited him for a long time.
But today was his birthday and they were sure to come.
At suppertime, he left the cake untouched so they could cut it and have dessert with him. After supper, he sat on the porch waiting.
At 8:30, he went to his room to prepare for bed. Before retiring, he left a note on the door that read:
"Be sure to wake me when you come."
It was Grandfather's birthday. He was 79.
Dear Annie: May I add another solution for disgruntled family members trying to visit the hometown?
A decade ago, with four young children, we often traveled great distances to visit my family every year. We had to use vacation time from work and pay for plane tickets, hotels and a rental car, and often arrived to discover that no one had time to spend with us, even though we planned our visits around their schedules. Worse, when we'd stay with my parents, their home wasn't childproofed, so we would spend the entire time following the kids everywhere to keep them safe. After several years of this frustration, we made some decisions that have made family visits so much better.
We no longer go yearly. We've made it clear that they are welcome to come here, and we would even pay their travel expenses. So far, no one has accepted. Now we visit every two or three years and use websites that offer vacation rentals in homes that fit our budget. Because there is a kitchen, we don't have to eat out all the time. We tell our family that we're in town and leave it up to them to make plans to spend time with us. We then spend our vacation actually vacationing — seeing the sights, visiting old friends and relaxing.
While our trips home to see family are still pricey, they no longer are a source of stress and frustration. Treating those visits like the vacations they truly are has helped all of us enjoy the time. — Older and Wiser Traveler
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.