Pennies from Heaven

Reg Stark - Sugar Land, Texas
As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, December 3, 2010
Reg Stark

After 43 years of marriage, native Texan Reg Stark lost his wife, Linda, to cancer. Ever since, he has been finding pennies everywhere he goes. Stark believes each coin he discovers is a sign that Linda is still with him and still looking out for him.

Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: afterlife, death, love
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I lost count at three hundred. There have been shiny ones, tarnished ones, mangled ones, and vintage ones: pennies from heaven.

Linda, my wife of forty-three years, lost her courageous battle with cancer over a year ago, and ever since then I have been finding a penny almost every day.

The first one was in the parking lot of the local post office, about a month after Linda’s passing. I was there to mail a stack of bills—a new experience for me. Linda had always handled our money, and as a member of the accounting department for an insurance company, she was good at it. I, on the other hand, was not to be trusted with such matters.

Whenever Linda found a penny, she would put it in her shoe for luck. If I saw one, I didn’t think it was worth the trouble to bend down to pick it up. But that day I took the penny home and put it in a jar in the kitchen. It was not until I had to get a bigger jar that I began to realize that something was going on.

I found one six different times at Bush International Airport in Houston, the city where I live. Each penny was in the same place underneath the same chair where I put my shoes back on after going through security. In fact, I find one in every airport I travel through.

There is a story for every found penny. Many times all I have to do is ask and one will appear. I have been stopped in my tracks by something or someone steering me in a different way only to find a penny waiting for me.

And it’s not just me. Our son, Jeff; my sister-in-law, Mary; and my best friend, Tom, have all told me of finding pennies at times when they needed a boost.

Linda was known for her generosity, acute pragmatism, and tuna salad. She was a caring, doting mother to our wonderful son and a loving, devoted wife to me. She enjoyed a good, raunchy joke; had a bawdy laugh; and could demonstrate a sailor’s vocabulary whenever her Irish was tested.

We all watched as she deteriorated over a long, agonizing six months in and out of surgery and chemotherapy—without a complaint or a hint of self-pity. She finally succumbed one evening just before midnight in a home she loved—surrounded by her friends and family.

I have always had a long-distance relationship with God—doubting more than believing. But now I believe those pennies keep bolstering an unshakeable faith—although I backed into it. Someone told me angels leave pennies to remind you they are with you. I think that first penny was a pat on the back for getting those bills out on time—for a job well done. All the rest have proven to me that Linda is still with me.

Yes, you could say that I am now penny-wise.

Reg Stark was born in Beaumont, Texas. Since retiring from his career as a project developer in the health-care field, he has pursued his lifelong dream as a full-time artist. Mr. Stark and his wife, Linda, were high school sweethearts and were married for forty-three years. They have one son, Jeff, a successful graphic artist and designer who lives with Mr. Stark in Sugar Land, Texas.