There was a glint of copper shining from the dull, cracked asphalt in front of the no name motel we stopped at to rest on the way to our daughter’s wedding.
Bleary eyed from a less than restful slumber on a hard mattress in a room off the interstate, I almost missed it as we loaded our car for the next day’s drive. “It’s a lucky penny,” exclaimed my husband as I bent to check out the shiny circle. “Wow, how often do you find a brand new penny on the ground?” I asked as my eyes grew suddenly misty.
The memories flooded over me.
My father died fifteen years ago after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. A lifelong traveler, we passed out brand new pennies at his memorial service and encouraged mourners to take the penny on their journeys and find a place to leave the penny in his memory. For years, I carried the leftover pennies on my travels and left the shiny reminders around the globe, as I said a silent prayer in my Dad’s memory. After many years, the shiny new pennies were gone. I still occasionally pulled out an old penny at a wishing well, but they were often worn and darkened with age, a little like I am now as I get closer to the age of my Dad when he died.
My Dad had been on my mind on this journey to my daughter’s wedding. He would have been so proud of the way the toddler he lovingly called “Sweet Pea” has turned out. The little girl who held her Grandpa’s finger as she cautiously explored the world has established a life and career in a new city. She has chosen a man of character and integrity, much like her grandfather, to marry. She has grown up to be a kind, loyal young woman. Dad would be proud.
How I wish he could be joining us at her wedding
The penny had been in my pocket ever since I found it. I caressed it in my fingers and felt my Dad with me. I carried the penny in my pocket on the way to the wedding. I would rub it when I was overcome with emotion and think of my Dad, a man who always presented his best face to the world, no matter his suffering. After rubbing the penny, I would feel better able to smile and relish the joy of the occasion, rather than focusing on our daughter’s life path moving her further away from home.
I tucked the penny in my clutch purse on the way to the wedding ceremony. I didn’t touch it during the celebration, but it comforted me knowing that it was there.
The next day as I was packing up for the trip, I emptied my purse, scattering its contents on the hotel bed. No new penny shone from the sterile white bed covering. I searched my pockets but could not find the penny. At first I was sad (like the boy who loses the first bell of Christmas from his pocket in The Polar Express story), but then I realized the true magic of the coin.
My Dad came to me in tangible form when I needed him. He was in the penny I carried to the wedding and, as always, he was in my heart as we began our journey home.
Thank you, Dad. I feel your spirit still watching over me.