Remembering an endearing moment from a past Valentine’s Day.
To this day, I can’t help but flash a smile when I pass a Stanley Steamer location, see one of their yellow vans with black lettering or watch a TV commercial for the carpet cleaners.
Stanley Steamer will always have a special place in my heart.
Back on Valentine’s Day 1991, I had taken the day off from my newspaper job to have the carpets cleaned at my family’s two-story country home on five acres outside Anderson, Indiana. I purposely chose this day to get the house ready for the real estate market because I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing my female co-workers receive Valentine’s Day flowers when I knew my 12-year marriage was crumbling.
Just a couple of weeks before—when my young daughters and I had pink eye at the same time—I received startling news that my first husband wanted out of the marriage.
“I want somebody who looks like a million bucks on my arm,” he says, repeating it twice. Of course, having pink eye, I wished I looked better, too!
But he wasn’t joking. His superficial comment made it easy for me to realize we were not on the same page as far as values, and I knew this was not the same man with whom I had fallen in love.
The emotional roller coaster of sadness and heartache I was feeling came to a screeching halt on that Valentine’s Day nearly three decades ago. As two men from Stanley Steamer cleaned away, I went out to get the mail and was shocked to open a business-size white envelope containing the petition for divorce.
The reality hit me hard, and it was devastating to receive the papers on Valentine’s Day. As I broke down bawling, the carpet cleaners rushed to my side and listened as I blubbered and showed them the papers. Without any hesitation, the men consoled me with a compassionate hug, and their endearing act of kindness was exactly what I needed at that moment.
On Valentine’s Day a few years ago, I noticed I was driving past Stanley Steamer in Leesburg. I made a spontaneous U-turn and went into the office just to tell the receptionist the story of how Stanley Steamer touched my heart and still makes me smile.