Coming Back to Me

Dennis Friedman

I WISHED I HAD MY friend Chuck’s memory. He can remember things from our college days as if they happened yesterday. My memory isn’t nearly as good. There are, however, a few moments I’ll never forget.

I remember in high school when a classmate asked a girl, who was also in our class, if he could have her leftover orange peels. I knew Floyd well enough to know he went to school hungry some days. I offered Floyd my lunch. I thought he needed it more than I did. I also wasn’t crazy about the tuna fish sandwich my mother had made me.

I was lucky when I was growing up. My parents provided me with life’s necessities. We weren’t rich. My father was a machinist and my mother was a switchboard operator at a department store. But they made enough to provide for my sister and me.

The money I made working summer jobs put money in my pocket. I didn’t have to contribute to the household income. As a result, I was able to buy myself lunch the day I gave Floyd my tuna fish sandwich.

I remember when I was in the fifth grade and Hershel came to school with red lipstick on the side of his face. I guess his mother kissed him goodbye that morning. Hershel didn’t have a father.

The kids teased him. Not me. I talked to him as if nothing happened. Hershel was a tough kid, but that lipstick episode revealed he was actually a nice guy under his rough exterior. We became good friends until he moved away the following school year.

One day, I was going into a store and a young girl was outside selling candy bars to raise money for her school. She was by herself. There was no parent by her side. There wasn’t much foot traffic, so there weren’t many opportunities for sales. I felt she could use some help. I bought quite a few candy bars. I told her to keep them and sell them to someone else.

I don’t know why I still remember these various small moments. They say people enjoy spending money on others more than on themselves. Maybe being kind and helpful to others in some small way can also provide memorable moments you cherish for life.

That’s why it might be best, if you can afford it, to start giving money away while you’re alive. That way, you can get the enjoyment of watching your money help loved ones or dear friends in need. One of the best ways to give away money to individuals is by taking advantage of the gift-tax exclusion. You can give up to $16,000 in 2022 to as many individuals as you wish without paying the gift tax.

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