Thoughts of the incident haunted Bettie for several days. It seemed so abrupt, so unjust. Bettie had seen Molly’s gentle nature and genuine desire to please her husband. Knowing little else, Bettie assumed the recipient of such love would behave in a way and treat the giver in a like manner.
Still unable to put the incident out of her mind, Bettie wondered if Molly’s husband knew how much thought had gone into the purchase. If only he knew the loving actions that went with the purchase, perhaps then he might have let Molly keep the dress, or treated his wife differently.
The following weeks, Bettie saw that the dress was marked down even further. Each time her eyes caught sight of it, she felt a sense of disquiet. Deciding it was risky, Bettie called Molly’s husband at his work with the telephone number found in the return receipt.
“Sir,” Bettie said, “I hope I’m not disturbing you. I’m the salesclerk who waited on you and your wife when you came in to return a dress she had purchased.”
“Yes, I remember you,” came the disgruntled reply. “What do you need?”
“I may be out of line here,” Bettie began, “but, well, your wife made such an impression on me, and I thought you ought to know …” the line remained silent so Bettie continued, “what a truly beautiful woman she is and not only in her outward appearance, but in the love and devotion she portrays to you and your new child. I could tell you weren’t happy about the money she had spent on that dress, but it seemed so important to your wife to look beautiful for you and make you proud of her at your reunion, and she was so pleased to find the price had been substantially discounted.”
Drawing a deep breath, Bettie continued, “She honestly bought it with you in mind, and now the dress has just been marked down even further. Can’t you let her have it? There is a saying, ‘It’s good to value the things money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the precious things in life that money can’t buy.’ ”
There was a thoughtful silence, then he answered, “You’re right, you’re out of line. And I think I made my intentions clear when I was in the store. But thanks for thinking of us.” With that, he hung up. No “good-bye”, just the harsh click of the phone. Having been so thoroughly dismissed, Bettie felt discounted.
When Bettie came to work a couple of days later, she was greeted by a bouquet of white daisies with a note that read, “Thank you for your thoughtfulness.” The card held no signature.
“When did this arrive?” Bettie asked Helen, her coworker.
“Yesterday,” Helen responded.
“Do you have any idea who they’re from?”
“No, we assumed you had a secret admirer!”
Puzzled, Bettie went about her work as usual.
Bettie was hanging some apparel when an excited, vaguely familiar voice said, “I was hoping I’d find you here!”
“Oh, it’s good to see you again Molly,” Bettie said, surprised. And she understood and put it together – the daisies had been from her, a peace offering for her husband’s rudeness.
“He bought the dress for me!” she said gleefully.
Pleasantly stunned by her words, Bettie found herself grinning as widely as Molly was. “Oh, I’m so happy for you – the dress was made for you!”
“But that’s not all,” she went on, unfastening her purse to retrieve something even as she spoke. “In fact, it’s not even the best part. I just had to show you – look at the note he put in with it when he gave it to me.”
Unfolding it carefully, Bettie read the note’s bold handwriting.
I’m sorry that I’ve let the pressure of my work cause me to lose sight of just what it is I’m working for. I’m also sorry it took me this long to realize how much you deserve this dress. It’s taken me too long to realize a lot of things – including how beautiful you’ll look wearing it. And most importantly, I’ve realized just how lucky I am to have you, and your love. Thank you for loving me as you do.
Bettie finished reading and she saw Molly’s eyes were moist with tears. The fullness of her heart touched Bettie as much as the humility and love in the words of her husband’s note.
“That’s wonderful, Molly,” Bettie said, really meaning it.
“I thought so too,” Molly replied. “I just had to let you know. Hey, lovely flowers,” she said gazing at the daisies sitting next to the cash register. “Are they from your boyfriend?” Not waiting for a reply, she continued, “You know, my husband sent me a bouquet of roses yesterday.”
Bettie said nothing. She didn’t tell Molly about the call she made to her husband, or the white daisies he had sent for the wake-up call.