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.