Recollections by Richard Bleil
Every once in a while, the stars just align. Some years ago, I was dating a woman (yes, I had a date), and some holiday was approaching. I believe it might have been her birthday. I’m a man, you know, and as such I like shiny things. I wanted to buy her something but had no idea what to get her. So, I stopped in the only jewelry store in this very tiny little town to see what they had.
Of course, immediately one of the people there came over to see if they could help me. I mentioned that I was looking for a gift, and the salesperson said, “oh, do you mean for…” Yes, the town is so small that not only did they know for whom the gift was, but apparently they even knew that we were together. “I know exactly what she wants!”
He brought me to a ring (no, not an engagement ring) and told me that she had been coming into the store every day for the past few weeks, and always went right to that ring. So of course, I bought it, and he agreed not to tell her that it was me. That night we had supper, and she was really down. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me about the ring, how much she loved it, and how disappointed it was sold. She also told me that “today I went to the store to finally buy it”. A week later, I gave it to her. When she opened the box, the way her face lit up would have lit up the deepest darkest cave.
Gifts are a way of telling somebody that we were thinking about them. At least that’s why I give gifts. The goal is not to get anything for them (then they wouldn’t be gifts, they would be negotiations) but rather just to say thank you for being in my life, I was thinking about you today. When I was in Boston, I was living with a family who had a son with severe cerebral palsy, so bad, in fact, that just about a month before I moved in (to watch their other son after school in exchange for room and board) they had to put him into a home. It was very difficult for them, of course, and he did get to come home periodically to visit. His palsy was at the point where he really couldn’t move or talk, but he could answer yes and no questions by moving his head up for yes and to the side for no if, and only if, you ask very simple questions very slowly. The home was dedicated to children like him.
He was home for his birthday, and I wanted to get him something, and I found it. It was a fire truck with a siren and flashing light. It would run until it bumped into something, at which time it would back up a bit, the ladder would raise, then go back down, it would change direction and continue. This was a perfect gift for a few reasons. First, it engaged all inputs for the children like sight and sound. Second, it was excessively loud and obnoxious, and his parents could send it with him back to the home. As it turns out, it also engaged touch.
A few days later, I was informed that at the home, the resident caretakers made a game of it. They sat all of the children on the floor in a large circle and started the truck. It would drive until it “hit” one of them (not hard enough to hurt the child, of course) and the truck would do its thing with the ladder. The children did have enough higher brain power to get excited by this, and they seemed to feel as if they “won” every time they were the one the truck hit. Sadly, their son died some years ago, but I’ll never be the same for having known him.
I guess that’s something about the best gifts. I never give them in anticipation of getting something back, but with great gifts like these, I always get something in return after all. I get a great memory, a warm glow, a happy memory, and the knowledge of knowing that I made a difference.
I guess, in a way, these blogs are my gifts to my readers. I think I can safely assume that those who do read them do so because they enjoy doing so. I hope you continue reading, and I thank you for your dedication.