Storytelling at Work
April 03, 2016
The Gift of a Brand New Shirt

Marc Black dad.jpg

ED NOTE: This lovely story, about the generosity of a grandfather's love, was written by singer/songwriter/troubadour Marc Black.

As a boy, my father did not consider himself poor, but his family had very little. He grew up in Brooklyn with two brothers, a mother who was an English teacher and a father who was often 'away on business trips'. He was particularly fond of his grandfather, Wykoff, whom they all called Wykey. He was kind of a mythic character who had a great sense of humor and was known to be strong enough to carry a piano on his back.

One day when I was quizzing my Dad about his life in Brooklyn, he fondly remembered that he used to go to visit Wykey with his younger brother. They would carry a baseball bat and run across the 'dangerous' Italian neighborhood for the visit. Beside just enjoying seeing his grandparents, he and his brother were often treated to penny candy at the corner store.

One summer day when he was about four or five years old, they visited only to find out that it was Wykey's birthday! My Dad was mortified that he didn't have a present. But then he had an idea.

He went upstairs to his grandpa's bedroom, opened the drawer where Wykey kept his laundered white shirts -- the kind that had been returned from the laundry, stiff with cardboard and looking like new. My Dad and his brother then excused themselves, saying they had to get home, but not before my Dad took one Wykey's shirts and tucked it under his own.

Then they ran all the way home, found some wrapping paper (he wasn't too clear about where or how they found this), wrapped the shirt as a present, ran back to his grandparents' house, and proudly presented their gift of a 'brand new shirt' to their grandfather. Wykey played along 100% and graciously accepted the gift. He even bragged about how his wonderful grandsons knew his exact right shirt size.

This secret was never spoken of or revealed, but the generosity of love between a grandfather and his grandchildren was on full display.

More about Marc

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at April 3, 2016 01:12 AM

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Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

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Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.