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My unlikely valentine
Unprompted, my brother had used his own money and sent flowers to my sister and me in Utah all the way from Alabama where he was serving his mission. - photo by Kate Rose Lee
I am four years younger than my brother Jeff. Growing up he was often annoyed with me, which probably had something to do with the fact that I was annoying.

I wanted his attention and Im sure that I did all in my power to get it. By the time he was in high school and I was in junior high, our relationship still wasnt great. We have a sister in between the two of us and the two of them always got along fairly well. In fact, I often wished that was how it was with us.

I remember sneaking into Jeffs room one day when he was at a friends house. Jeff had worked the summer in Lake Powell. He had a shelf with a wooden river rafting paddle displayed on top. It was signed by all of his buddies. I noticed it also had my name on it as well. Curious, I picked it up and noticed the words The Katie beater written on it in big black marker. Of course he never had, nor would he have, hit me with the paddle, but I got the message.

We were young and our relationship or lack thereof was and probably is very similar to the average family. Still, there were many times that I wished it was better. I longed for the days Mom often spoke of.

One day you guys are all going to be good friends and none of these ridiculous fights will matter anymore.

When I was 16 and my sister Amy was 18, Jeff was on a religious mission. He had been gone for a year and wouldnt return for another year. Truthfully, before he left, I couldnt wait for him to go. I hoped that we would both be more mature by the time he returned.

It was Valentine's Day and I recall sitting in one of my classes. Some of the girls had been given flowers or treats. It wasnt a big deal, but secretly I wished that just once someone would do that for me. Im sure my sister felt the same way.

We were shocked when we returned home after school that day. There on the counter sat two beautiful bouquets of red roses. There were cards attached. One was addressed to my sister and the other to me. I was thrilled. I told Mom how nice it was that Dad had done that for us, since I had really wanted to get roses that day.

My mom smiled as she responded, They arent from Dad.

As I opened the card, tears came to my eyes as I read the simple note.

To Kate,

Happy Valentines Day.

I love you.

Love, Jeff

Unprompted, my brother had used his own money and sent flowers to my sister and me in Utah all the way from Alabama where he was serving his mission.

I have had some great Valentine's Days since then. I have received my share of flowers and notes. But I can honestly say none have touched my heart in quite the same way as the roses and card from my brother Jeff, who incidentally has become my good friend.