Romantic Inspiration

SHMILY: A Lovestory You Will Never Forget

My grandparents were married for over half a century and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find.

They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more. They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers, to await whoever was preparing the next meal.

They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio (where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding with blue food coloring).

“Shmily” was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper, to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet.

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There was no end to the places “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows.

“Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love, one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship.

They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection, which not everyone is lucky to experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses, as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other’s sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble.

My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome and old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew “how to pick ’em.”

Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune and each other.

But, there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ lives: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier.

As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, they went to church every Sunday morning. But, my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore.

For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.

“Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time.

Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and (taking a shaky breath) he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came (a deep and throaty lullaby).

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. I knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

“S-h-m-i-l-y: See How Much I Love You…”

Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for letting me see.

As seen in “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, reprinted by with permission of the author.

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10 thoughts on “SHMILY: A Lovestory You Will Never Forget

  • courtney

    I cried the whole time I read this story. Im 20 years old and I can only dream about finding this kind of love. Good for your grandparents!

  • My Fiance and I recently started a new Devotional Study Book “Night Light” by Dr James Dobson, and this story was the very first devotional in the book. We both absolutely loved this story, and ever since we’ve been “playing that exact same game.” It’s fun and exciting wondering what he’ll come up with next, and it’s sure build your relationship. It makes you think of your partner constantly, whether it be trying to do something new to do with shmily or waiting for they’ll do.
    This story is absolutely amazing and very inspirational.

  • Beautifully expressed. I read it over and over and it never fails to touch my heart each time. I teach Human Development and have used this one and other such stories from Chicken Soup to introduce my sessions each time, and my students really get a kick out of this one…”Shmily!” – Thank you.

  • John W.. Snowdon, II

    Some years ago, I found this same story in a current Reader’s Digest. I went to my computer and made dozens of ½ sheets using different colors of print paper.
    My fiancee at that time and I went to Florida to move her belongings back to North Carolina … her and my birthplace-state … prior to our getting married in 2005.
    When she was out getting some supplies to help in the move, I got a handful of the SHMILY copies and put them everywhere in her Home there.
    As we were packing many boxes, we had to move items to the place where we were ” doing the packing in the boxes. ”
    Every once in a while, she would come to where I was … holding another copy … and she wanted another kiss from me … after she found the SHMILY … in places she would not have thougth there would possibly be … and after a while … she would just call out to me that ” she had found another one. ”
    We still consider those as love notes … and both of us at different times put them in different places … just to bring smiles to each other.
    I doubt that we will ever quit doing this … it is a very nice way to say that ” I love you ” … still.

  • that is such an inspiring story, it shows that true love does exist. and maybe oneday i’ll find mine.

  • Annette Mattern

    What a touching a insightful story. I felt the enduring love between Grandpa and Grandma as well as Grandpa’s loss. I sensed the profound effect witnessing their love had on the author. Superb storytelling. You must keep writing.

  • This is such a beautiful story. It touched my heart and soul and just reinforces the fact that true love does exist and I am lucky enough to share it with my husband.

  • Wow- I had tears running down my face by the time I got to the end. That’s an amazing story. It really warmed my heart.

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