The First Day

IMG_0112The first day, without my mother in the world, was last Friday.  I think my mother’s passing may make me a kinder, more loving person.  She was that way.  She didn’t just like a person, she tried to understand them.  And in that, she found the gray areas between  behavior, heart, and the soul:  they don’t always add up, and good people can do things that baffle the mind.  To cut to the heart, my mom would ask the question “why?”.  She would question aloud with an “I wonder….”.  She tried to look deeper than the surface, into the creation underneath.  And with those words every concept, supposition, and black-and-white answer, would get thrown out the window — knowing people were more complex than a singular action, and the answer may never be known.

She was our best friend, our confidant, our supporter, our cheering section, and our kick-in-the-butt when needed.  And it’s almost like, now that her spirit is free, she is filling us with her essence.  I can hear her saying “c’mon, c’mon now — let’s go, let’s go”.  She was hooked up to oxygen and an  IV and still insisting she had things to do, places to go — something productive, something worthy, something joyful.

And she found joy in many things — cooking, and perfecting her sauce; a “dunk” in the lake or pool on a hot day, or just taking notice of nature around her; and being with family.  She was a shy person, a woman of many talents, but held back by the times she was borne into — she wanted to be a nurse, but was discouraged at a young age; she loved to paint but set it aside to raise children.   Nevertheless, she shone.  And she was always willing to make a home for the stray animals my sister found, or feed a lost soul, or give advice to whomever needed and asked for it.

She was kind in her honesty, something I never mastered.  She didn’t care about anyone’s color, or choice of life companion — she taught us from a young age that it was their soul and spirit that mattered.  And she could see deep into a person’s heart.

Our mom was smart, a force to be reckoned with when something mattered, and loving.   I feel her essence filling me with memories of who she was… who she still is.  My mom is the best part of who I am, might be, and still hope to become and I’m blessed to see her, everyday, in my daughters.



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I don’t remember when the first pennies started appearing after dad’s passing. I do, however, remember pulling up to the local drugstore in town, a day or two after, and my daughter, Tracey, telling me that Somewhere Over the Rainbow was playing — her favorite song — and we took it to be a sign from dad that everything was ok! That was where he was, and it was all good. So I, for one, made a mental note that Somewhere Over the Rainbow would be dad’s song to us.

But it wasn’t soon after that, that the pennies started appearing. Now, I completely understand: pennies are like that; they do just seem to appear. And they appear randomly at most times in everyone’s life. They can be found commonly dropped in parking lots, streets, homes, sidewalks. They can and are dropped by people everywhere, in every avenue of life, and in every place that is traveled by any human who just happens to drop a penny.

So, I don’t remember when the pennies started to become personal to us. Or which one of us was the first to ask the question, somewhere along the lines of: “are you finding pennies lately? I mean, are pennies showing up everywhere?” Or comments about finding so many pennies in so many different places — one after another, enough to get our attention. But, as a family, we definitely started noticing when pennies started showing up in the most unusual, most unlikely places, and at the most important times. This caught our attention and started us wondering …. what is this?

Tracey: I’ve looked down on the floor of my room and a penny will just be there. I have saved them over the years and really should label when and where I’ve found each one. I just know that they appear when I’ve needed help the most. Sometimes over the years we’ve found them on the floor when we went to the Vermont house. I also remember finding a penny on the floor of my dorm room when I first moved in. They are usually found in areas in the center of a room, where it would have been really easily noticed. However, often it seems as though pennies will suddenly appear in the center of a room and were not there before. I remember finding pennies during transitional moments in my life, as well as during times when I needed encouragement — in the dark times and times of uncertainty.

Terrie: I was going to take an important clerical test, and I was really nervous. When I got into my car to go, there were 2 pennies on the seat. The first time I remember taking notice of pennies, was on the walkway coming into my house.

Kim: I don’t remember the first one, but I remember the most unusual was at the foot of my podium when I was teaching a class.

Colleen: The strangest one was on top of my car after my interview for my internship.

Pennies have appeared, for each of us, in many unusual places — in the shower, balanced on top of a picture frame, sitting on the curb as my daughter stepped up to enter her graduation hall and, most recently — two pulled from my husband’s shirt pocket on the morning of his surgery — nothing else in that pocket — just two pennies. They come in all forms too: shiny and new, old and flattened, sometimes green with oxidation or bright and polished. As crazy as it may seem, we like to think of these pennies as being a form of dad’s “talking” to us; a form of his being “with” us. But, in any way they appear, we like to think that dad is there … in spirit … with us, still supporting us, still encouraging us. He’s still our biggest cheerleader and the loudest, too. And from over the rainbow, he sends us his love. How about you? Find any pennies today?