TEN SENSE When penny loafers were in style in the 60’s, I, in my thinking outside the box even back then, decided to put dimes in my shoes. Just in case I was somewhere, needing to get to a telephone booth to make a phone call, I knew I was always prepared. Those shoes soon went out of style as cool slip-ons and hippy clogs came onto the scene. Little did I know then how a dime would see its way into my future.
When my dad’s sister, and my Aunt Ruth, decided to give up driving at age 84, we all thought the same thing; now what? She had lived as a single woman all her life and was stubbornly independent. Growing up with three brothers was proof she was a survivor.
As a WW11 army nurse we were always drawn to the love of adventure in her stories. When the war ended she continued her nursing career in the many veterans’ hospitals all over the country. We were captivated in awe whenever she told us stories of the places she lived, worked and played back in the ‘50’s. Her nursing buddies were her family in the absence of being close to home. When she finally came back to the area to live, her nieces and nephews couldn’t wait to go places with her. My mother would say, “Why do you want to go with her, she’s always yelling at you?” Her so-called yelling at us was to keep order in the chaos and to control the bunch of us hooligans. “Stop jumping on the bed! Watch where you’re putting that (whatever it was)! Don’t sit on the couch with your wet bathing suit!” We didn’t care about any of that because any time we went with her it was always somewhere different and always an adventure and of course we always stopped for ice cream! We played many games of Checkers, Pinochle, Scrabble and cards –oh, so many card games!
Her apartment was nearby as I started into high school. It was a short walk away and I would walk there after classes and wait for a ride home from my dad. It was home base for all of us when we would babysit nearby and then stayed with her for the night. Sometimes when we’d go out with friends we would know we could always crash with her if it got too late. College came and I moved away. Aunt Ruth moved to another town but always near family. It was something she missed for too many years. She was here to stay.
Life happens when you’re busy doing other things. Soon enough I married and our family life was filled with three girls. Whenever I needed a break, Aunt Ruth was always a phone call away and her door was always open. She involved me in the local Christian Women’s Club where I was welcomed by a great group of ladies. We had a lot of fun and good years together. When the girls were in school, Aunt Ruth and I would sometimes get together and play Scrabble. I never let her win because I didn’t need to. She held her own and had a great command of Scrabble wit. Or should I say outwit because it was that competitive. She always gave me a run for my money. It wasn’t a visit unless we played the game.
When she made the final decision to give up her car, we bought the Toyota Corolla for daughter #3. This regal ride became our daughter’s “Rolls” as the years went by. I truly believe Aunt Ruth kept her safe. If the car could talk what a tale or two it would tell about the travels of each generation over the many miles.
If I had a dime for every moment she started a story with, “Did I ever tell you the time when…” and with a smile she would tell me a doozy of a story about growing up with her brother’s, cousins, or the many shenanigans played with her nursing buddies. I may have heard it before, but when someone is telling you something with such glee, it always seems like you’re hearing it for the first time.
I started to grocery shop for her around noontime on my way home from work. We would have lunch and I could never leave without playing Scrabble. I still have papers of our scores tucked in the game.
It was late November in 2006 and my sister had gone over to visit. A freak little accident, but nothing any one would think too much about, happened during that time. She moved a small table to clean the area but Aunt Ruth decided it was in the way and stepped over it. In the process she scrapped her ankle on the bare wood. They treated it and placed a bandage over it.
I saw Aunt Ruth the following week and she showed me the bandage and told me how the accident happened. We brought in a visiting nurse and assumed it was being treated. I offered to change the dressing to see it for myself. At the drug store soon after, I asked the pharmacist about gangrene. From there things happened quickly. A ride in the ambulance brought Aunt Ruth to the local hospital where she was admitted. We were now thrown into the unknown. As a diabetic who had heart issues the “scratch” became a full blown case needing surgery for debridement. Back and forth I went from work to the hospital then home. Several days later the surgery took place. And then the pieces of her life began to fall apart. One thing led to another and another. I questioned everything. From the hospital to rehab and back again for something that happened by accident. She died six weeks after it all began.
By the end of the year, three deaths hit home. Aunt Ruth, my mom, and a dear friend. I had major knee surgery to add to the misery.
As I struggled to make sense of it all, a co-worker shared a story similar to the “pennies from heaven”. A light suddenly turned on. From that moment I was a believer in heaven’s message. And then the dimes started appearing when I least expected it. Sometimes it was a moment when I needed help to get me through the day or just to the next moment. One appeared after I took all the clothes out of the dryer. Looking through to the bottom of the shoe box and surprise, there it was. The bottom of my purse held one lone dime. A glance into a corner of where I stood and there would be a dime not a quarter or nickel but a dime. Why would I turn and look at that moment or be moving things in just such a way and voila, a dime? So many times in the most random of places whenever I needed a small comfort in some way there would be a reminder from Aunt Ruth letting me know, “this too shall pass”. I do believe in these messages and have faith that I am meant to know the bright rays of heaven are coming to me through these findings. Her faith in the lord stayed with her until the end and He waited for us to be with her to have our last goodbyes.
My final goodbye from Aunt Ruth, however, has turned into many hello moments. The dimes say it all. “Hi, how are you? Just thought I’d show up and let you know I’m thinking of you!” I’d stop, smile, and just shake my head and tell her I was thinking of her, too.
Thank you Aunt Ruth! : )