There’s a poem called “Pennies from Heaven” that I learned about after my dad passed away. My mom shared it with me and it talks about how, when you find a penny on the ground, it comes from someone in heaven who is trying to put a happy moment in your day. I’ve been amazed at how many pennies-just pennies-I find on the ground these days. And at the most poignant moments.
There was the one I found on his birthday the year he died. And the one I found when house hunting, laying in the middle of the counter of the house I eventually bought. Or the ones I find on random days when I think a few moments before “I would love to find a penny here”.
Theologically, I don’t believe that these pennies are from my dad. But I do believe that they are divinely placed at a certain place and time when I need a tangible token of my memory of him.
I’ll never forget a colleague who, when I returned to work after my dad’s memorial service, stopped me in the parking lot to share some wise advice. She had lost both of her parents at that point and I knew she was speaking from some personal experience. She told me that there would be days when I expect to miss my dad-his birthday, special holidays. But there will be a moment, like a song on the radio or some inside joke we shared, and those moments will knock my feet out from under me because I’m not prepared for that wave of grief. It’ll arrive out of nowhere. She was right.
But, there are also moments where I experience these external reminders of him that bring more of a smile to my face than tears to my eyes. He loved to laugh and had a wickedly good sense of humor. He loved to watch an underdog prove everyone wrong and come out on top. As I come across these moments on occasion, I savor how much he would have enjoyed being part of that.
The good ghosts are part of the good around me. There are those who were such a key part of my life and so close physically and emotionally to me who have now left. Yet, they are still here. They show up not just when I consciously want to remember them, but also in subtle reminders. Or, in a more blatant nudge, like a shiny copper penny to remind me of my red-headed dad.