When my mother was a small child, she always carried coins in her black-and-white saddle shoes for safekeeping. It became a habit that she continued into her adulthood. My mother always placed pennies in her shoes before putting them on her feet. “It brings me good luck,” she would say whenever I questioned her about it.
I never could figure out how Mom’s ritual brought her good fortune, especially when her old shoes had numerous holes. But my mother truly believed in her superstition and, I guess, there were a few times when it was a true blessing. When I was a child, I remember watching my mother scrape spare change together from the bottom of her purse to pay for the weekly groceries. If she was still a few cents short, Mom, standing right there in the check-out line, would step out of her shoes and pick out the coins that she had placed there for providence. She would hand the coins to the cashier, and then, with her head held high, she would step back into her shoes, gather together her groceries and children and proudly walk out of the store. Yeah, there were times when those pennies brought her real luck and good fortune.
Though I never put pennies in my shoes, there was another coin tradition Mom taught me that I completely embraced. Mom believed in “pennies from heaven.” Every time she randomly found a coin on the ground, Mom would tell me that an angel was watching over her. Whenever angels are near they leave gifts of coins and feathers. I have always had a great belief in angels and continually looked for spare change whenever I needed a boost of faith. I rarely found the reassurance I was looking for.
Well, that was until my mother passed away on March 16 of 2010. After that day, coins suddenly seemed to appear around me at the most random times and in the most unusual places. From the very first penny I found after Mom passed, I truly believed it was a sign from heaven that she was still looking out for me. And whenever I found more valuable coins I felt doubly blessed. Whenever I find pennies, I always think of Mom and her ritual even though I keep the coins I find in a special glass vase and never in my sneakers.
For some reason, I’m not sure why, I suddenly thought of Mom and the spare change she kept in her shoes while I was at work on Easter Sunday. I didn’t consciously concentrate on the memory. It just came and went as a passing thought.
But that afternoon, my right shoes suddenly felt a little funny. I took a few steps and felt a strange pressure at the bottom of my right toe. I shook my foot trying to shake away the feeling. It didn’t help. Every step I took caused a small achy pressure into my toes. I tried hard to ignore it. I was at work and didn’t want to be bothered by something so trivial. I knew there was something in my shoe but didn’t know what it was. Finally, when the pressure was too annoying, I took off my right shoe, held it up over my left hand, and shook my sneaker. To my surprise, a nickel fell out of my shoe and came to rest in the center of my palm.
I stared at the coin in surprise. I don’t know how the nickel suddenly got into my shoe that Sunday afternoon. What an amazing Easter gift. I whispered a quiet thank you to my mom and my many angels for always looking out for me. Even though I had to work on this holiday, it was, without a doubt, the best, most blessed Easter I had ever had.