Coins and Memories
I wasn’t expecting news like that. I cried for 3 days solid and then another few days here there and everywhere. I had to make a decision. Stay in the UK and be with family, or go to the US and preserve as much as pursue what I’d started toward making the magazine a success.
Money wasn’t a deciding factor and as cold as this sounds, I felt it was right to go over to the US again and spend time with people I’d started business with.
Thirty minutes from touch down from Detroit Airport and I heard God’s voice. This is what He said. ‘You will be questioned by immigration, how do you feel about that?’ With my eyes burning from the tears I’d shed on the plane I answered Him with, which I hasten to add was in my head, ‘I don’t give a rats ass what happens. If you need me in the US, I can get on with what has to be done, if you need me back in the UK. Whatever.’
So I collected my belongings and wheeled my silver coloured hard-wearing carry-on to the gate. The usual questions. ‘Have you visited the United States of America before? When? How long are you here for? What’s the nature of your trip to the United States of America?’ were asked. As I answered the questions at the end of them I was asked to step to one side and follow the immigration officer, which of course I did.
My body clock was telling me to go to bed so I stifled a yawn or two when I was asked to reveal the contents of my bags. I didn’t mind, in fact, I thank God for people like immigration and law enforcement officers in general and we methodically went through my belongings. As certain items were revealed, questions were asked, like, ‘What am I looking at?’ when my money purse, that must have been turned upside down in my bag, spewed its contents all over the floor of the office. He expressed his sincere apologies. It was no trouble. Just a few coins for me to pick up and that was that, I was given the ok and off I went to get my connecting flight.
Busy as a bee I met up with various people I’d developed business relationships with and got stuck into the next phase of the magazine being launched when I thought it best to rearrange some of my things and couldn’t find some coins that meant quite a lot to me. They didn’t commemorate anything to anyone else but me and I got really sad about losing them and this is why.
My dad and I hardly know one another but there are a few things that remind me of him in such a way that touches my heart and the coins I lost were one of those ways. The story goes like this.
Coin number 1 - 1970 - This coin was in the first money purse I ever owned and it was given to me by my aunt who had had my dad put a penny in it. I remember opening the purse that had a butterfly clip and was a leather patchwork pouch design in front of her. It was my birthday when I was given it, I peered inside it and said, ‘There’s a coin in here.’ My aunt and mum and dad smiled at me and told me that it was in there to attract more of the same. I kept the purse and the coin safe.
Coin number 2 - 1981 - I’d graduated from school and was enjoying some afternoon sun in the garden. My mum had gone in to the house to get us both a cool drink when my dad came home from work. He smiled over at me and asked how it felt to have finished school. We had a short chat about grades and what I wanted to do next. I told him that I hadn’t made the grade to continue in further education at the school. I remember the expression on his face. He wasn’t disappointed by any stretch and said this, ‘By who’s standard Julie?’ I knew what he meant when he reached into his pocket and asked me this question. ‘Would you be prepared to enter into a contract with me for what’s in my hand?’ Knowing my dad was self-employed, I wondered what he had in mind, it’s just that I didn’t particularly want to work as a contractor’s mate. I smiled at him and said, ‘Sure dad. What you got in mind?’ Smiling, he brought his hand out of his pocket and spun a penny into the air that I caught in my hand. Still smiling he finished with this. ‘Do the best in life you possibly can.’
Coin number 3 - 1981 - The first job I had was with a company called Boots where I was trained as a retailer and planned from the day I started work how I could successfully quit without having to give up my pay check. I was living at home with mum and dad, we’d agreed on how much I was to give them each month for board and lodging, I knew how much it cost me to use the local bus to get me to and from work and approximately how much money I needed to socialise with friends each week. I added it all up to find I had exactly one penny in credit to my name each week that I worked. As the first pay check came and went, I kept that penny and put it with the other 2 special memories I’d already saved.
Coin number 4 - 2003 - Various jobs had come and gone but I knew what it was I wanted to do for the rest of my life - write and speak - so I committed every penny I earned on achieving this goal. Sure that I had it all sorted, I decided to spend more time in this arena. With radio shows, speaking engagements and a magazine to organise, it all started well with plenty of work, until one day, for no reason that I could understand any too clearly, there was no work coming in. It doesn’t take too long when you have a mortgage, bills, a couple of credit cards to pay off and food to buy for yourself, for the piggy bank to run dry. With absolutely no money to my name, payments on the mortgage missed and creditors knocking on my door, I decided on going for a walk. I closed the garden gate behind me and put my head down to the ground when I saw a shiny penny. ‘See a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck’ I heard my dad in my head say.
So I’ve lost my pennies but not my memories, but if anyone has happened across them and you’ll know you have because they are marked in a particular way, please send them on over.
Thanks for listening.