Overheard: The Gift of Yourself

At a recent dinner party, I overheard our hostess Chris share an incredible but true story at her end of the table.  As she related it, three close, older men–retirees who regularly played golf together in Florida–were gathered at a memorial service for their recently deceased fourth golfing partner. During the event, they were informed by their late friend’s daughter that her father had made a special provision in his will for them: the three  buddies were to enjoy a long-planned “bucket list” golfing tour of Scotland at his expense.  He left them $100,000 to ensure a leisurely trip of a lifetime,  playing all the top courses while staying at the finest hotels and luxury accommodations. 

The three friends embarked on their appointed trip, and everything went according to plan.  They had a spectacular time and were near the end of a month-long trek through Scotland, when they found themselves having dinner at a pub near St. Andrews.  Seated at a nearby table was a young family of four speaking a foreign language amongst themselves.  They were focused on one of the children, a boy of about 11, who was translating the menu for them in heavily accented English.  At one point the golfers exchanged hellos with the family and initiated a conversation with the English-speaking child, who explained that he learned English in school and his family were refugees from the war in Ukraine.  They had only been in Scotland for a few weeks.  He described the family’s desperate plight, trying to find a permanent home and future in Scotland. 

              The golfers returned to their meals and quietly contemplated what they had heard.  Before leaving the restaurant, they made a decision:  since they hadn’t spent all of the money set aside for the trip, why not share the remainder with this family in need?  How much was left?  $40,000 – a life-changing amount.  What was one more round of golf and another fancy hotel when it was so clear what they should do.  So after a toast to their departed friend, it was done.  I can only imagine that there was more than a monetary gift.  I am certain these Florida golfers with years of experience in life’s ups and downs also offered invaluable advice to this stateless family about starting over in a new land.

Everyone at our dinner table had tuned in to this remarkable story.   Afterward, there was some spirited conversation about various methods for giving to those in need, not just money but also personal advice.   Subsequently my friend Bill and I had a talk about giving, both monetarily to those less fortunate as well as giving advice to friends and loved ones.  We are both professional “advice givers” – I am an attorney, and he is a financial advisor—and both of us often work “pro bono.” I refer to this concept as the “gift of yourself.”  If you have the extra money, it is easy to donate it. There is more effort in allocating the energy and time to advise, which requires one to stop, listen, and consider another person’s feelings, issues or desperation– and act in response.  Too often I hear “I have no time” or “that is not my problem” as a reaction to someone in need of some basic human empathy. The Florida golfers received a gift and paid it forward when they didn’t have to.  By reaching out they also gave of themselves. How many would have done the same?  As with the homeless it is easier to walk around than to offer a hand.

One thought on “Overheard: The Gift of Yourself”

  1. Such a heartwarming story ❤️
    When we give of ourselves not only are we helping someone in need, we are fulfilling our own sense of purpose which is so rewarding and essential in our lives.
    Thank you Lenny, as always.


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