Monday, September 22, 2014

Dimes from Heaven

My mother died suddenly the day before Thanksgiving. A respiratory condition had ravaged her lungs, tethering her to an oxygen tank for two years, and a recent outpatient procedure proved to be anything but routine, so there’d been some time to prepare. But we always assumed there would be more. More visits. More conversations. More holidays. More time.

In early November, I’d begun making plans to move her from Indiana to my home in Texas where I could care for her. At the doctor’s visit I had hoped would give her permission to make the long flight here, he instead admitted her to the hospital where she died hours later. The call early that morning from a caring nurse took me and my family by surprise. Instead of preparing her room, I started planning her funeral. As her executrix, I also had the responsibility of closing her accounts and paying final bills, so I had her mail forwarded to my house.

The day after her memorial service in Indiana, my cousin Kelli and I sat on the floor of my mom’s sewing room and sorted fabric and patterns, lingering over half-finished smocking projects Mom would never complete. “Have I told you about the dimes?” Kelli asked. I shook my head. “Ever since Grandpa died, I keep finding dimes in random places. Once at a church retreat, I returned to my bed after showering and there was a dime—right on top of my sheets!” The other dimes she’d found were just as unexpected and never among other coins. Just a dime. “Yesterday after your mom’s service, my friend sitting next to me stood up, and a dime fell out of her purse and landed on the church pew between us. She knew about my finding dimes and said, ‘There’s one for you from Aunt Mari.’”

Kelli’s story brought a measure of comfort in a difficult week of settling my mom’s estate before returning to Texas, and my grief subsided a bit as I fell into a familiar cadence back at home—work, kids, chores. Then one day in late December, I pulled out a load of wash and heard a ping against the metal drum. I reached in and found a dime. One dime. Shiny and clean. I sank down on my laundry room tile floor and clutched it to my chest like a long-lost treasure. Surely Mom was watching over me.

Dime I found in Lowes' parking lot.
As the weeks passed, I found a few more dimes—in a parking lot, on a desk at my daughter’s tutoring center (which I kept after trading it for an ordinary one from my wallet), and in the middle of the floor in the den. My sister found dimes, too. Once three at a time in her washing machine! The weeks following also brought many firsts—my first birthday without Mom. Her first birthday in heaven. Her first Easter apart from us. Every new first no easier to bear without her here.

Then in April, when my niece Ashleigh announced her first baby was due in the fall, we were faced with another milestone: The first grandbaby my mother wouldn’t rock to sleep or read a book to. No precious handmade outfit or smocked dress made by Mom would be given to this new baby. Weeks later, when Ashleigh said she was feeling a bit overwhelmed with work, buying a home and trying to sew some special items for the baby, I offered to help. “How about I make your bunny quilt?” I asked. She had shared a photo of a stroller quilt she wanted to make with a bunny appliqu├ęd in the center. “You wouldn’t mind?” she asked. “That would be great! Just no pink and don’t make it look like a boy’s either. Whatever colors you choose, I know I’ll love.” She and her husband were keeping the baby’s gender a surprise to everyone—even themselves.

So I printed out a picture of the quilt, determined how much fabric I’d need, and went shopping. After the third fabric store, I’d finally collected the right combination of colors and patterns I needed to make the bunny quilt. The only piece missing was Mom. She would have helped me choose the best weight of batting for the middle, the perfect thread and binding. Plus I missed having her with me. As a small consolation, I picked up a tin of candies near the checkout, the kind she always kept in her purse.

On the drive home, I cried. I missed not only my mom but what she was missing—holidays, birthdays and a new baby to love. Plus it had been over a month since I’d found a dime and couldn’t help feeling envious when my sister would send me a text with her most recent discovery: “A dime! Under the dresser I just moved!”

When I got home, I stopped at the mailbox and gathered the mail. In with a stack of bills and ads, one envelope stood out. It was addressed to Mom—a donation request from one of the many charities she supported—The March of Dimes. And right in a circle cutout on the front of the envelope was affixed a shiny new dime. From Mom to me.

Photos of my mother with my children:
Mom with Jacob
Mom with Benjamin

Mom with Amelia


Kendra said...


Anonymous said...

Pamela, I am a friend of Amy's from Rebuilding Together and saw your story this afternoon which inspired me to write you. When my daughter died in 1996 the the age of 23 years old I started having the same thing happen to me only it was pennies. I am still finding them and many times they bring tears to my eyes, but I always feel the love in my heart that Sarah is sending to me. Blessings to you and your family on this journey of first times. They turn to second and third, etc. and I pray that you will always remember her and deeply feel the love she is sending to you. Sincerely, Jane Eskelund

Pamela Hammonds said...

Yes, Jane, Amy has mentioned you often. I'm so sorry to hear you lost your daughter so young. My friend recently lost her 19-year-old girl, and she's been visited by a sweet dragonfly at the cemetery who allows her to get within inches of her. So many things can bring us comfort. Faith in God is foremost and knowing we'll be reunited one day with loved ones we lost helps us not to despair. Thanks for sharing your story here.

Anonymous said...

The other sign for me has always been butterflies. Sending you hugs!

W Nealy said...

Aunt Marie as i know and called her after getting to know her the past 6 years At FBC Muncie. Both her and Shirley have became like family and treated me as one of their own. I didn't hold back any tears at her funeral service at FBC, and her memory will always live on in my heart and thoughts,she was a wonderful women and loved everyone, so thankful for the time i had to get to know you over the years , I love you Aunt Marie and know you're looking down on us from Heaven
-William Nealy

Pamela Hammonds said...

Thanks for all the virtual hugs and I've heard butterflies are signs as well.

Pamela Hammonds said...

William, I'm so glad you commented. I met you briefly at Mom's funeral and wanted to follow up with you afterward and then didn't. I hope you find ways to emulate the love she showed others through caring for those who cross your path. I know she loved you and wanted to see you succeed in all that you do. Please stay in touch!