Choosing from the heart

I’ve read this story a number of times and it came across my path again. I’ve always enjoyed it and thought I’d share it here.

The Red Rose – A Meeting of the Heart
by: Author Unknown

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his
Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their
way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl
whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with
the rose.

His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a
Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found
himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with
the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting
reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the
front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name,
Miss Hollis Maynell.

With time and effort he located her address. She lived in
New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and
inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped
overseas for service in World War II. During the next year
and one month the two grew to know each other through the
mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A
romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but
she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t
matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe,
they scheduled their first meeting – 7:00 PM at the Grand
Central Station in New York. “You’ll recognize me,” she
wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” So at
7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he
loved, but whose face he’d never seen.

I’ll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

“A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and
slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate
ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a
gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like
springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely
forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I
moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips.” “Going
my way, sailor?” she murmured. “Almost uncontrollably I made
one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She
was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well
past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She
was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-
heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly

I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire
to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman
whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own.

And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and
sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did
not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather
copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would
not be love, but it would be something precious, something
perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had
been and must ever be grateful. I squared my shoulders and
saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though
while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my

“I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss
Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to

The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t
know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young
lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to
wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask
me out to dinner, I should go ahead and tell you that she is
waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She
said it was some kind of test!”

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