From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

“Giving” . . . The Unforgettable Gift

For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.

Francis Bacon

We were college students when my husband and I first noticed each other in church in San Jose, California. I sang in the choir, and Bob played his trumpet in the orchestra. Mine was not the most outstanding voice in the choir, contrary to the sounds that came from his most cherished horn, which I later learned he had been playing since the fifth grade.

Our college Sunday-school class retreat was held in Yosemite National Park that year. This is where we shared our first moments together amidst the casual atmosphere and comfortable laughter of close friends. The exchange of a few glances along with some light bantering ignited an eternal flame of devotion.

This occurred almost thirty-five years ago. Bob was a young lieutenant in the midst of a transition from the California National Guard into the regular army. That meant he would be forced into temporarily relinquishing the pursuit of his college degree in order to attend helicopter flight training as a medical evacuation pilot. Concurrently, his job—building saunas for a California-based manufacturer in San Jose—was phased out while he awaited orders that would provide the path toward our future.

During this overlapping of obligations, we were engaged to be married in March 1969. Despite the forthcoming orders and lack of a job, Bob surprised me with a sparkling, one-carat diamond engagement ring, which I assumed took most if not all of his life savings. At Christmastime, I was also shocked to receive a beautiful suede coat with a genuine mink collar. Needless to say, these lavish gifts were wonderful, but I was more enraptured by the thoughtful personality of this officer and gentleman who had stolen my heart.

Soon after our marriage, Bob served a year in Vietnam. Then we were off to his next assignment in West Germany where our only child was born.

Life couldn’t be sweeter, and I have such a wonderful husband, I thought as I counted my blessings on the way home from church one Sunday evening near Landstuhl. Quietly reminiscing in the car over earlier days, I in the choir and Bob in orchestra, it suddenly occurred to me that during all of our moving I had not seen Bob’s trumpet among our household goods.

“Bob, where is your trumpet?” I asked. There was silence. “Bob, your trumpet. Where is it?” If it hadn’t been in our household goods when they were unpacked in Germany, where could it be?

Sheepishly he answered me with a question, “Do you remember that suede coat I gave you the Christmas before I left for flight school?”


“Well, I hocked my trumpet to get you that coat.”

I couldn’t believe it. Tears coursed down my cheeks as we continued our drive home. I was humbled by this revelation. My thoughts resumed the counting of my blessings. One of the greatest I had received was Bob’s giving of a gift from the heart. The coat had disappeared into never-never land; however, I will never forget the unspoken love that was given through this precious, selfless and silent “giving” of this unforgettable gift.

Phyllis A. Robeson

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