OyChicago blog

What Giving Gives

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06/07/2013

Marcy Nehorai photo 4

It was too big. I knew it the moment I saw it, as she dropped it off, bringing it through the heavy front door of my apartment building.

"I didn't realize it was partially broken," she apologized, gesturing to the slight incision in the plastic seat.

She had given me something before, something equally used, appearing as if it had been rolled around in the mud for a while and then hastily cleaned.

I waved her off and thanked her for the exchange, bringing the protruding item into my home, making it through my front door without too much banging, and setting it down on the floor as my daughter slept.

I was already smiling, imagining her face when she woke up.

When I was younger, I recall my mother mentioning about someone's generosity that he would "give the shirt off his own back". That, and the expression "throwing money out the window" always created a confusing visual image for me as I tried to understand what these expressions could possibly mean. What purpose could such actions serve? My childish mind wondered.

I understand them now, as I inevitably have been taught all lessons of my life much later on than when the misunderstandings occurred.

What it means to give to a child; what it means to save a certain amount of money, set it aside in a dresser drawer, lying there in its powerful potential form until there's enough to purchase a Fischer Price bike; red, purple, and yellow, much too big, slightly used, but perfect, and wait for your daughter to wake up, with that smile of amazement and shock making it all worth it.

The pleasure of giving the shirt off your own back. 

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