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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Unexpected Gifts

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Have you ever heard poet Maya Angelou's quote below?

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Coming straight off the heels of the 2022 Winter Olympics, a post about an unexpected gift from the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics seemed just about right to include today. I've actually published an excerpt of the amazing cross-country road trip I took with three other travel-mates after graduating college the same year as the LA Games.

Receiving an unexpected gift from someone is simply the best. A tingly sensation warms up the heart and mind. There is no expectation for reciprocation, and it would be pointless if tried because the element of surprise is what the giver intended.

After driving back across the country from Los Angeles in the summer of 1984, a package awaited me. Jimmy, the LA Coliseum usher I became friendly with for two weeks at the LA Coliseum which hosted Track & Field, and I exchanged contact information on the last day before the closing ceremonies. I didn’t expect anything from him except a possible note or quick phone call upon my return.

By the time travel-mate, Mary, and I reached our homes in Cleveland, Ohio, a package had arrived from the City of Angels before me. My mom had neatly placed it on my bed. Since I knew I didn’t order anything, I was intrigued by the soft-covered large envelope. I tore it open with glee and out tumbled a blue and yellow “official uniform for staff” from the '84 Games.

The uniform was from Jimmy!

I couldn’t believe it! Jimmy had sent me one of his uniforms, a potential collector’s item.

The uniform hangs at the very back of my closet to this day. When I pulled it out to take the photo, I only had the pullover and not the pants. Maybe I donated the pants in the many moves since, but I swore I had the entire outfit.

Thinking back, though, I knew I wanted to keep this unexpected gift for the ages. It’s a good reminder of the good in people from all over the country, if not the world. Plus, it’s a mighty fine lesson to learn at the tender age of 22 and that the impact of that gift still lingers 38 years later.

Perhaps, along with the adage, “never underestimate the power of a chocolate chip cookie,” I can safely say and use, “there is indescribable joy in sending and receiving an unexpected gift.”

Who might you surprise and make a lifetime impact today?

P.S. It doesn't have to be anything big or grandiose.



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