June 2021 - "Every time it rains, it rains, pennies from Heaven"
These song lyrics from an old movie are a reminder of loved ones lost, and the wonderful memories that we have of them.
My mother died 22 years ago after a short battle of fighting ovarian cancer. She lost that battle, but I believe that she won lots of other battles throughout her life. She was born before the Depression and lived through her parents losing their farm and her dad being an alcoholic and dying when she was still a teenager. After she graduated from high school, she moved 75 miles away to Memphis so that she could work and help support her mother and two younger siblings. She met my dad when she was 14 years old and they married ten years later after he returned from WWII and after her brother and sister had graduated from high school and could support themselves.
My mother would have told you that her greatest loves were God, her husband, children and grandchildren, and her country, especially her small hometown of Alamo, TN. She was devoted to each of these until her death.
A few months after Mother died, I read a story where they suggested that when you find a penny, it means that someone in heaven is telling you that they love you. So, every time I found a penny, I liked to think it was Mother telling me that she loved me.
My niece, Kathryn, was twelve years old when Mother died. I was with Kathryn one day after that and there was a penny on the ground. I told her to pick it up and she said it was dirty. I told her what I had read about finding the penny, and I said “that’s Dear (her name for my mother) telling you that she loves you.” Her immediate response was, “what about Papa? He would tell us that he loves us too!”
So, we had a discussion and decided if the penny was heads up, it was Dear, and if it was tails, it was Papa, telling us that she/he loves us. A few months later, Kathryn and her parents were on vacation and while shopping, Kathryn showed her dad a bracelet with a penny charm and said that they needed to buy that for me. Her dad didn’t understand the significance of that bracelet, so Kathryn explained.
On Christmas morning, I opened a gift from my brother, sister-in-law, and Kathryn, and there was the bracelet with the penny charm. My brother told the story and said that he had never heard that before, but now when he finds a penny, he looks to see if it’s heads or tails. It has become a tradition in our family.
Through Encouragement Ministries, Pat and Russ spend time every week with people who have lost loved ones. They pray with them, listen to stories and memories, and try to help them through very difficult times. Some of these relationships are long-term, and some they’ve only known for a short time. All of them have an impact on Pat and Russ, and the people they are serving. It’s never easy to lose a loved one, no matter the length of the illness or the immediacy of the death, but we hope that like our family, they will have fond memories of their loved one.
We don’t have a bracelet with a penny to send to everyone, but hopefully, the next time, you find a penny, it will remind you of someone in heaven and the love and memories you shared.