Mildred was so deep into her crossword puzzle that she didn’t even realize Gracie had left the room until she heard the little girl talking.
The sweet, tiny voice was coming from somewhere deep in the house, and it made Mildred’s heart race. How could she have lost track of her great granddaughter? Mildred set her magazine down on the sofa and stood.
She took a couple of seconds to get steady on her feet, then headed down the hallway. Gracie’s voice was coming from Mildred’s bedroom, where she wasn’t allowed to play.
Mildred hurried across the carpet and peeked her head into the doorway. She was relieved to see that Gracie was alone, sitting on the floor in front of the dresser.
The little girl was speaking to a doll lying on the floor. She had her pudgy hand over the doll’s heart.
“Now, Tommy, you can be a brave warrior!”
Mildred cleared her throat. “You know you aren’t supposed to be in here, dear.”
Gracie inhaled sharply then looked up at Mildred and beamed, ignoring the mild scolding.
“Look what I found, Gigi!” Gracie held the doll up for her great grandmother to see. There on the chest was a golden heart with the silhouette of George Washington against a purple background.
It was then that Mildred noticed the bottom drawer of the dresser was open.
“Do you know what that is, dear?” Mildred asked.
“Sure, it’s a hero’s heart!”
Henry had never liked to talk about the war. Never considered himself a hero, even though he was. He had dropped his Purple Heart in the bottom of the dresser seventy years ago, and it hadn’t seen the light of day since.
“That’s right, honey,” Mildred said, tears welling in her eyes.
She smiled at the decades of happy pictures on the bedroom walls, the wonderful life they’d built. The shining little girl in front of her.
“That heart once belonged to a true hero.”