More than a dozen inspiring tales, submitted by Real Simple readers.
After a boyfriend stood me up on Valentine’s Day, my baby brother came to the rescue. I was in a very unhealthy, on-and-off relationship when I was 24 years old. Despite the fact that my boyfriend and I had just reconciled the day before Valentine’s Day, he failed to pick me up for our big date. I was devastated. That is, until my then-19-year-old brother showed up with a rose and took me out for a nice dinner. We didn’t spend many of our teen years together, so that night marked a turning point in our relationship. Plus, my brother’s love and support gave me the strength to break up with my boyfriend the next day.
My 2 1⁄2-year-old took my face in his hands when I was on the verge of losing my temper and said, “Mommy, you make me happy” :)
My boyfriend (now husband) filled my fridge with food. Years ago, I was in a bad spot financially, and my meals often consisted of oatmeal and peanut butter sandwiches. Somehow my husband, whom I had just started dating at the time, found out about my situation and snuck into my house to leave me all my favorite foods. My difficult circumstances suddenly felt bearable, knowing I had someone in my corner.
She restored my prized possession. In a decluttering frenzy, my mom accidentally threw out my beloved high school yearbook. So for my birthday last year, my sister found a digital copy of the yearbook, printed the pages, mailed them to my old classmates to sign, then had them all bound. I cried when she gave it to me.
Rochester, New York
My husband of 36 years warms a blanket for me in the dryer and covers me when I’m cold. #itsthesimplethings.
My father helped me let go of the past. I had a difficult time removing my wedding ring after getting divorced five years ago. The emotions behind such an act and my feelings of loneliness far outweighed the need to move on. The day after I spoke to my dad about my struggle, he gave me a beautiful heart-shaped ruby ring and said, “I want you to wear this to remember that you are loved.”
My husband not only asked my parents’ permission to propose but also reached out to the parents of the fiance I lost on September 11.
Surprises galore! Before my boyfriend and I lived together, he used to hide little gifts around my house for the times I needed a pick-me-up. If I told him over the phone that I had had a bad day, he’d reveal a hiding spot (like under my dresser or in a half-eaten spaghetti box) and I’d find a sweet card or a yummy treat. It always cheered me up.
When I was pregnant for the first time, my sister moved to the states to live with me while my husband was in Afghanistan. In addition to taking me to the hospital, she also picked up my husband from the airport so that he could be with me in time for our child’s birth.
Michelle Gray Perkins
My mom and aunt helped my daughter. My daughter has a genetic condition that requires her to take daily medication. When she was little, I would crush her pills into applesauce to make swallowing easier. One summer, my mom and aunt spent a whole weekend making tons of delicious homemade applesauce so our little Ada could have the best-tasting medicine ever.
Three Lakes, Wisconsin
At bedtime when I was growing up, my father used to regale me with the adventures of an imaginary cat named Oscar. My dad traveled a lot for work, but whenever he left, he would record an “Oscar story” so I could listen to one on tape every night that he was away. Having those stories provided comfort and a sense of security for the days we spent so many miles apart.
Ever since she broke her foot, my mother, an Alzheimer’s patient in her late 80s, has lived with me and my husband, who treats her as if she were his own. He plants flowers for her, decorates the house the way she likes, and entertains her with his humor. I’m so blessed to have them both in my life.
Cathy Creed Goodale
Camden, South Carolina
My husband preserved my wedding dress when I was pregnant with our second daughter, in case one of the girls wants to wear it!
My daughter watched over me. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 45, my then-three-year-old insisted on sleeping in a cozy nest of blankets on the floor next to my bed for several months. She told me that she wanted to be nearby in case I needed help in the middle of the night. Twenty years later, I’m still confident that if I need her, she’ll be right by my side.