From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

A Simple Gift

I was fortunate enough to have a special person in my life who could light up my world. No, he wasn’t famous (although everyone in our city seemed to know him). He wasn’t the sort of person who stood out in any way. He was my Uncle Richard. Plain and simple. Though it wasn’t clear to anyone else why he put a smile on my face every day, we both knew. He told me constantly that I was the most gullible girl in the entire world. I would deny it every time. I guess I was the perfect teasing target.

When I was about ten or eleven years old, I loved Slinkies. Boys liked Hot Wheels and footballs. Girls liked Barbies. I liked Slinkies. One day I was sitting on the floor in front of my uncle playing with my Slinky and he said, “Ya know, the best kind of Slinky is one that can go upstairs as well as down.” At first I didn’t believe him, but he somehow managed to convince me there was such a thing. So for about a year he had me looking for that perfect Slinky.

A few years slipped by and I grew out of my Slinky phase. Eventually, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer of the bone. At first he was strong, but it eventually took a toll on him. He was not somebody to go down without a good fight. One night I went to visit him in the hospital. I wanted to make him smile so I brought him a gift. I said, “I found the perfect Slinky. It goes both upstairs and down. But this one’s smarter than the rest. It takes the elevator.” I had never seen him laugh as hard as he did that day.

My uncle passed away a few years back. Today that Slinky lies on his grave as a reminder of what we both know: I am the most gullible girl in the world.

Shelby Schanandore

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