Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pennies From Heaven

It's said that when an angel misses you, they toss a penny down from Heaven for you to find.  I had heard of this in passing many years ago, but never really put much thought into it.  I don't believe in coincidences, and I do believe that spirits of our loved ones try to communicate with us in sometimes very mundane ways.  I've heard of experiences with songs that are heard more often than is typical, feathers found in odd areas or odd ways, butterflies interacting with people or showing up in unexpected locations and of course, pennies, and sometimes dimes, showing up in unexpected places.

When my grandmother passed, I lost not only a family member, but a very close friend.  Despite knowing she was on borrowed time, her death was still not easy to deal with- what death is?  Two years later, I still tear up at those times when I think about something I would have liked to share with her.

Some time after her death, I went into work as usual.  I unlocked my office door, turned on the lights and went over to my desk.  There I found three pennies sitting in front of my keyboard face up all in a row.  While odd, it didn't completely register how odd it was.  Luckily, something told me I should save the pennies someplace safe and out of the way.  A few days later, I was doing the dishes at home.  I finished loading the dishwasher and rinsed out the sink.  As I placed the dishcloth on the faucet, I noticed 3 pennies lined up in the sink.  This caught my attention because just moments before there were no pennies.  No one had come into the kitchen while I was there.  The pennies just showed up.  A week later, I was shopping at a plant nursery and as I walked to an area with a display of African Violets, there on the floor were three pennies face up in a perfect line.  It was at that moment that I realized the pennies I was finding were more than a small windfall.  They were signs from my grandmother.  She and I took many trips to plant nurseries where we always left with plants- almost always African Violets. The timing of the pennies was interesting too.  They began showing up at a particularly stressful time in my life.  It was as if she just wanted to let me know that she was there in spirit.

This past summer, I've also had some interesting encounters with birds.  I'm sure there are some people who would scoff or question how I could consider a bird a "sign" since birds are around all the time.  It's true, one of the bird species I had an encounter with- an Eastern Bluebird- is a common enough sight in the rural area where I live.  However, it's typical to see only one or two, usually a mated pair.  One day, while walking the dogs down to our barn, I had seven bluebirds fly over and line up on the split rail fence next to me.  I was only about 5 feet away and walking two very large Labrador retrievers and yet these 7 birds just sat there looking at me.  I laughed.  Any time 7 bluebirds of happiness line the fence as you walk past it means you're either a Disney Princess or it's some sort of sign.  My grandmother loved birds, it was an interest we both shared.  I had even purchased a bird identification book for one of the last Christmas gifts she received.  I knew it was a sign from her.  But my bird encounters didn't stop there.

My family owns property in Virginia and April of 2011 the house was hit by a tornado.  We were lucky that most of our damage was to our trees, though that loss cut deep.  Those trees were very old and had been there all my life.  The landscape had forever changed.  I was most concerned about one tree in particular and the birdhouse that was nailed to it.  My grandparents had made a birdhouse out of a coffee can years and years ago when they used to live there.  It was knocked down at some point, found in the brush, and after sitting around for a few years, I finally managed to fix it and put it back in the tree.  I couldn't recall any birds actually using it as a house, but it was something from my grandparents and I placed it there for nostalgic reasons.  When my parents called with the damage report, I asked about the coffeepot birdhouse, knowing it must be long gone.  Imagine my shock when not only had the coffeepot not moved off the tree, but that tree was one of the few we has left.  When I managed to travel down to the house, I went over to check out the birdhouse to make sure it was secure.  I noticed that for the first time a bird was nesting there- it was an Eastern Bluebird.

In addition to the Bluebirds, I also had a few sightings of an Indigo Bunting.  While familiar with what an Indigo Bunting looks like, I had never had the pleasure of seeing one in the wild.  And one morning at our backyard feeder, there one was.  My second sighting was again at our house in Virginia.  There amidst the trash and torn up trees that comes with the aftermath with a tornado, sat a couple of Indigo Buntings in the brush.

Along with an interest in birds, my grandmother and I also shared a love of gardening.  At her house she had a blue hydrangea bush that had already bloomed a few months earlier.  Walking around the side of the house, I was surprised to see that there was a large bloom on the plant.  Knowing, without a doubt, that this was another of her "signs", I snapped a photo. 

So, remember, those we love might be gone in the physical sense, but they are still very much a part of our lives.  Look for those odd, out of place occurrences that might signify something more profound. 

Save those pennies from Heaven.