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BRODY: The act of selflessly giving is priceless

Admittedly, I write a lot about giving. I have learned so much about the different kinds of giving and the reasons for doing it in the first place.

However, the other day, my daughter, Phoebe, did something that compels me to write about it.

I had a very nice watch, and I never took it off except to shower.

While making my bed, I happened to look down at it, and oddly enough, it registered the wrong time for the first time.

My watch was dead in the water, and from experience, I knew a new battery cost more than a new watch.

I asked Phoebe to get me a new one. I am lost without knowing what time it is.

The next day, when she got permission to come into my room, she came in and simply sat beside me.

She held my left hand for a moment and then did something I’ll never forget. She took off her own nice watch, and, before I could stop her, had placed it on my own bare wrist.

Now, I knew she needed it far more than I did as she has a practice that makes time an essential factor.

Yet, her love for me made her gladly give the watch right of her arm, and it touched me deeply.

Then, there was that time right after Christmas when Gene and I were driving back from visiting relatives in Massachusetts. One morning, after driving an hour or so, we stopped at a roadside diner. 

It was bitter cold, and as we sat at the counter gulping steaming coffee, we noticed a man in a corner also drinking hot coffee.

Gene asked the man behind the counter about this man because his coat was tattered and torn in places. The manger told us that man had been homeless for a long time and lately had a bad cough.

“No doubt,” I said. “The temperature today is zero.”

I watched Gene. He was wearing a Christmas present, a gorgeous cashmere sweater under his nice warm coat.

He slowly removed his own coat and then his sweater he removed it and walked over to the homeless man.

Gene helped him remove his coat and then slipped that sweater onto the tired-looking man.

Then the oddest thing happened. The man took the sleeve between two fingers and rolled it around and around to feel it’s warmth, it’s softness. He tried to remove the sweater saying, “Nice, mister.” And Gene simply said, “It’s yours.”

It made Gene deeply happy to give it. It’s heavy weave could help this man stay warm, and it made Gene’s love deeper for his fellow man. 

There is another story.

I was recouping from all my life-saving spinal surgeries.

Before my surgery, Gene and I were walking slowly in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, and in the window of the jewelry store was the most delicate beautiful crystal clock.

I said, “Oh, it takes my breathe with it’s charm and perfection,” even the sound it made as it ticked.

I commented to Gene how much I adored that clock.

Then came a dark horrible cold day way below zero degrees. It was also our two-month anniversary since I was starting my spinal surgery at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

I felt depressed. Two months in a hospital is much too hard to endure, and I had more to go. 

After lunch, Gene said he had to leave for a while.

At about 5 p.m., here came my husband. I barely recognized him.

He looked like a space alien. He had borrowed a suit to go over everything. All you could see were two eyes.

He began peeling the monstrous space suit off, and then he sat down in a chair close to my bed. 

How was your afternoon Jean sweetie?” he said.

The whole thing seemed surreal to me.

“Gene, where have you been in that suit all afternoon? I was worried.”

As was so typical of this man who had stayed with me through the powerful scary two months of my life, he grinned widely and held out his hand.

In his hand was a beautifully wrapped little box. Opening it, I found this glorious crystal clock — the very one I saw in the jewelry store months ago. He had walked three miles in 20-below-zero temperatures to get it for me.

My eyes filled with tears and so did his.

Wiping my eyes, I said, “Oh Gene I dearly love it but didn’t you freeze?”

His answer was, “Remember the story of the little Indian boy walking so far to find the perfect rock for his teacher? He said to her, ‘long walk part of gift.’”

As I looked back on my three examples, I saw one thing that stuck out in each. They all involved giving of one’s self. Not only giving of one’s self but sacrificing one’s self.

I should add to that one was for a mother, one was for a wife and one was for mankind.

You cannot buy this kind of love in a store anywhere, nor could you put a price tag on them if you wanted.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in The Sun for more than 25 years.