Fresh mowed grass scented the air. The sun felt warm on her back as Iris jogged through the Wilderness Park. She passed by young couples gazing into each other’s eyes and holding hands. Iris wished she could stir some romance back in her marriage. Since her grandfather had moved in, her husband worked extra hours to supplement their income. Iris wondered if Tom actually volunteered to stay away from home.
Gramps meant well, but sometimes he sounded gruff. Deep down Gramps was gentle like a baby bunny. When he had a choice of either buying food or paying his utility bills, Iris stepped in. She owed him. Gramps had raised her and sent her to college. Tom might complain about the ‘old people smell’, but at eighty two, Gramps had all his facilities. He helped her get the children off to school, so Iris could exercise before work. Whether Tom liked it or not, Gramps had been a lifesaver. They didn’t pay for any after school daycare.
“Gramps, I’m back.” Iris strolled into the kitchen and caught her grandfather and a woman in an embrace. Iris cleared her throat and the two lovebirds parted. “Mrs. Dorsey?”
“You know her?” Gramps asked.
“Yes, she’s my neighbor. How do you know each other?” Iris asked.
“I wait with my grandkids for the school bus. Malcom brings your kids to the same spot. At our age, you can’t wait around for love again. I’m lonely since Walter passed. Malcom and I enjoy each other’s company. You don’t mind, do you dear?” Mrs. Dorsey asked.
“No, I’m a bit jealous. Between the children and our jobs, Tom and I don’t spend much time together. When he’s home, Tom plays computer games. I miss the romance we once had. I need a shower before I go to work.” Iris ran up the stairs.
* * *
Her feet ached. Iris spent eight hours, running from floor to floor, checking on her sick residents. It was cold and allergy season. With the elderly, sometimes it turned into pneumonia. Iris felt exhausted as she drove home. She pulled up to the mailbox and grabbed her mail. On top of a stack of bills was a folded note. Iris opened it.
You are a shining star in my life. Love, a secret admirer.
Iris smiled. Did Gramps put Tom up to it? She drove into the driveway. She hummed as she strolled inside the house. Her children ran into her arms. Iris kissed the top of their heads. She left their side and searched for Tom. She found him in the den. Iris plopped into his lap and nibbled his neck.
“You’re in a good mood. Did you get a raise or something?” Tom asked.
“No, but I might get a rise out of you.” Iris winked. “Meet me upstairs.”
Iris hugged her grandfather. “Thanks.” She ran upstairs and joined Tom in the bedroom.
The next evening, Iris found another note in the mailbox.
You are like a newly blossomed rose, naïve of your beauty. Love, a secret admirer.
Iris hugged the letter to her chest. She wrote a note of her own and put it in the mailbox.
She walked in the house. After changing out of her scrubs, Iris tied an apron around her waist. “Honey, can you get the mail? I forgot about it. I’m making your favorite dessert.”
Tom hurried outside. He returned with a note in his hand. “Is this why you asked me to get the mail?”
“I thought I’d repay you for the sweet love notes you left me.”
“What love notes?” Tom looked puzzled.
“You know, the ones I helped you with, boy? I told you Iris felt neglected and wanted romance,” Gramps said.
“Oh, yeah, those notes. Don’t you have a date tonight?” Tom asked.
“Peggy and I are taking the kids to the movies. Enjoy yourself.” Gramps winked.
“I kind of like your grandfather, Iris. Forget dessert. You’re the only sweetness I need. Let’s go upstairs,” Tom said.