He carried his little box all the way to Munich. He boarded the plane in the states with his package. He had, for safety’s sake tucked it into his carry on so that it wouldn’t be ruined. He gently ported it to the hotel, and left it to set and wait…and wait…and wait.

The package waited through the whole opening ceremonies of the 1972 Munich Olympics. It then waited during the team preliminaries. It waited through the team finals, individual all-around finals, and the event finals. The little package had crossed half the globe, waited in a hotel room, just so a daddy could give it to his little girl.

It was a tomato.

Linda was competing in her third and last olympics. Her father had traveled all the way from the states to watch her compete. He knew, that his daughter loved his homegrown tomatoes probably more than anything else on this planet…so he brought her one. It was their family’s gold medal. Tomatoes had always been given as gifts. He wasn’t allowed to see her during the competition, but now that things were over, he could give his daughter her prize.

In my new gym, I wanted to show the owners and other coaches just how much I appreciate them, and how happy I was to “be back home” in my old gym. How happy I was to be a part of something bigger, how happy I was to be a part of a gym that was known for excellence as well as known for kindness, joy, and love. I wanted to add what little I could to this family so I did what you do for those whom you love…I baked for them.

Last Friday, the other coaches and I set up the gym. This isn’t some small undertaking mind you, we met at 11am, began shuffling mats across town, tearing up the gym, and then began our normal coaching day. We all coached until our classes were completed, and then continued to put the gym together for the meet the following day.

At 12am we finally left, weary for the effort. The women’s coaches had to be there again at 7am the next day, coach all day, run the meet, and then facilitate putting the gym completely back together—and leave at midnight again. But, when they left that night, they left with a whole apple pie that was still warm. An apple pie that I baked for them.

I had gone out and picked the apples that morning. My mom had volunteered her kitchen, supplies, and electricity. I peeled, cored, rolled, and baked till I had 4 apple pies…and yeah, they were good.

I think it was what everyone needed. A slice of pie with ice cream. After all these coaches had just bust their butt for these kids. They needed a reward, a thank you. They didn’t get paid any extra to do all this extra work, but they did it because the love the kids. They wanted to have a great meet. They vacuumed every corner, tightened every bar, and moved every mat so that the kids could have a great day. They even farmed out their own children so that they could take care of the children of others.

Linda set up, tore down, and judged the entire meet.

When Linda returned to the gym 2 days later, she returned the pie plate , the basket she carried it in, and gave me a tomato. The symbol of her family. The symbol of thank you. The symbol of a job well done. She went into her garden, found the best tomato on the vine, and brought it to me at the gym to show me I was a part of their family now.

It was one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever received.

Be the love with your coworkers. Bake someone a pie. Bring someone a tomato. Move mats for someone. Be the love in the world.