I dislike shopping. I find wandering around shops to buy a gift, is a chore. It brings out the judgemental critic in me! Why are people buying all that mass produced cr*p!
There are some gifts I love to give, and receive. I remember one of those gifts today, because he gave me, the sea.
Then there are others, the ones I find when I rummage through memory. Precious fragments. Time has not destroyed the tangibility.
I recall several years ago he was offered a job that took him across to the other side of the world. I drove 400 km one weekend to meet him for breakfast by the sea. After breakfast, with the surf drowning our voices, I gave him a huge box in the car park. He held it in his hands watching the wind toss the big, red satin bow from one side to the other. He was overcome with emotion and said, “No one’s done this for me before”. I urged him to open it, eager for him to see what I had seen three weeks earlier.
Sitting atop a high shelf in a gift shop was a teddy bear with intense, brown eyes. I carefully set aside every other bear to reach him. When I turned around I found the shopkeeper watching me with some annoyance. I laughed apologetically and said, “I’m sorry, but I think the bear chose me”.
I took the bear home and hand made wool trousers in herringbone, bought a ‘premmie’ sized shirt and knitted a tiny, thin black tie with bamboo skewers (oh! the pain!). I bought a tiny diamond stud for his ear. The bear became a replica of my friend, as he was when he was interviewed for the job.
My friend opened the box. He was speechless. He placed the box down. He hugged me for the longest time. Eighteen months later he was killed in an accident. He was 43.
A week later I phoned his sister. We talked for hours despite it being our first conversation. I shared with her my friendship with her brother, and our passion for writing. The 4 am coffees. The arguments over the choice of words. Toblerone left on the table silently, in a gesture of peace. Red carnations on the doorstep when I wasn’t home.
Then I told her about the gift I gave him and the process that led up to it.
His sister started to cry. She told me I had not bought the gift for him, but for her. It was her source of comfort during a period of immeasurable grief.
We were both living in different Hemispheres. She was holding the bear when I phoned.
I’m more convinced today than yesterday … give from your heart and not your wallet.
Until next time
a dawn bird