Roses and Valentine Card displayed with family picturesAlthough Valentine's Day, 2014 is already fading from memory, I wanted to share this story.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and like so many other years, I went out to buy flowers, a card, and chocolate in a heart-shaped box. Sure. I know I could order these things. Go online, order flowers, add chocolates. Specify a delivery address. Enter my card information.

In all likelihood, everything would show up on time in the correct place. It's become so automatic, you have to wonder at the modern convenience of gift shopping. I even had a boss at one time who would have the administrative assistant order his wife's flowers for him, although that was long before Internet shopping. She actually had to make a call to order the flowers and chocolates, and take a trip to the local drugstore for the card.

I peeked once, it was a really nice card.

No. I like to go out to my favorite flower shop and pick out the roses myself. I can choose which buds I want, mix in some different shades if the mood strikes me. Add feathery ferns and leaves and tiny white flowers, though white carnations make a good accent too.

I picked out the roses. Deep-red long-stem roses from one of many vases in the flower cooler with the big glass front door. They had many colors: reds, pinks, yellow, white, and some were even coated with glitter. Then the tree ferns (nice, feathery ferns that give an airy feel to the bouquet) and leather leaf, another fern that looks a lot more the ferns most people know.

Instead of baby's breath, I choose white carnations.

The wondrous scent in that cooler is amazing, something you can't find anywhere else.

I saw a kid in the cooler too. Maybe 15, 16 years old. I didn't pay much attention, I was on a mission. After making my selection, I headed for the counter and stood in line. The kid was ahead of me, clutching two long-stem roses.

He made me smile. I was thinking it must his first real girlfriend and I wondered what she was like. Maybe she was pretty special that at 15 or 16 years old, this guy was out buying flowers for her, even if it was only two. I remembered mowing lawns and shoveling snow for my spending money, and some of that went for flowers or a corsage for a dance, or...

After a few minutes, the lady at the counter finished wrapping a bouquet and smiled at the kid. "Need those wrapped?" she asked.

"Yes Please," he answered and handed the flowers over the counter.

So polite. Something you don't see everyday in a rushed flower-shop counter line. And just by the smile on her face, I imagined she was thinking the same thing I was. That they were for his first real girlfriend, and what a nice kid for buying her flowers, and...

"Would you like some baby's breath and fern?" She held up the offered additions.

"Oh um. Well how much are they?"

Her smile faded slightly. The additions are not much money. Less than two dollars certainly. She explained how much, and added up the total for him with the baby's breath and ferns. He reached in his pocket and pulled out crumpled bills and change. And counted twice.

Then he nodded. "That's good. Put those in too please."

She started to wrap the flowers and ferns and baby's breath. "Are these for your girlfriend?" she asked as she finished. She said it just as politely as he had been. Everyday conversation in a flower shop.

Of course, me and her and everyone else in line at the counter all expected the same answer, and we were not disappointed, though his answer was not at all what we expected.

As he handed over the money—all of it and only a few cents to spare—he said, "They're for my sister..."