She was always trying to “collect” something. When I was a little girl, it was the wheat pennies. She put them in a Piggy Bank that was a replica of Goofy from Disney. She kept Silver Dollars and Fifty Cent Pieces in a glass jar, hidden in her dresser drawer. I remember I always begged her to get the jar out and let me play with the coins. For some reason, the glass jar fascinated me. I don’t know if it was the clinking noise or the bright shininess of the coins as they spilled out of the jar, or it may have been the jar itself. It was one of those that you rarely see anymore; the kind that had the lid with the little rubber seal and the metal locking mechanism that sealed it and held its contents tight. When I was eight years old, my Grandfather died.
The preacher gave me a $2 bill, and I wanted to put it in the jar with the coins. As times passed and I grew up, my Mother kept the coins and pennies, and added to each. She was very proud of her collection. I suppose it was because she saw it as an accomplishment. At the time, I couldn’t see how something so small, could be so large in her eyes. She didn’t work, she never had too. My Father insisted that she stay home and take care of me, and cook and clean the house.
Now when I look back I can see why this collection meant so much to her. A few years after my second child was born, she started a collection of quarters, the one’s with the different states on them. She bought one of those calendars that held each quarter, and of course she bought two, one for each of my children. She hid them behind the chair in the living room, next to the closet for years, then under the dresser in the extra bedroom. I always wondered why she hid everything, but later, I found out. Life went on and as time passed, she managed to complete both calendars and even have some of the quarters left. She put them in the jar with the silver dollars and fifty cent pieces. The “Goofy” piggy bank was in the top of the hall closet tucked away safe in the back, where it couldn’t be seen without obvious plundering.
Our home was a good home. We felt safe, and we had what we needed, we were far from rich, but secure. My Father kept us safe and did not allow anyone to take advantage of our family, or our home. The only visitor were people we had known for years, neighbors we trusted, and family that had been in and out of our lives for years. Anyone was welcome, however a stranger was watched with a keen eye, and we never had any problems with the security of our belongings, or our well being. When my Father passed away, it opened the door for more criminal activity than I ever expected. I did not expect it because the people doing it were thought of as my friends. With my Father gone, certain people saw the opportunity to come in, and take advantage of three very blind, naive eyes. My daughter and I both, were guilty of bringing people into the house that my Father would have never allowed. These people pretended to be our friends, and all the while they were stealing us blind, right in front of our eyes.
My jewelry started coming up missing, a piece here and there, when questioned, everyone played innocent and it was hard to accuse one or the other because we were hurt that any of them would do such a thing. My Mother’s heart medication and Anxiety medication came up missing next, then some of my Father’s guns, and a Video Camera. My Mother tried to stop the traffic but all of our “friends”, some of them even “family” continued to swear it was not them and even pretended to help find out who was taking things from our home. My Mother finally had enough, and went for visit with her niece in her hometown. While visiting, she decided to stay and got her own apartment. My children and I remained at the house, and nothing changed. Little by little, I was robbed blind by people who were supposed to be my friends. They robbed me when I was at work, when I was home, right in front of my face. My purse disappeared one night, my entire paycheck got stolen and nobody would own up to it. Then the final straw happened. On Christmas Eve, I got called into work early, I worked in surgery at the hospital and got called in for an emergency. Before I could get back home, while my teenage daughter and ten-year old son slept, one of these “friends” broke into my house and stole the presents right out from under the Christmas tree.
I had hidden the presents in the trunk of my car, avoiding theft, because it took everything I had, working overtime, taking extra shifts, etc., just so my children would have a good Christmas. Not knowing what time I would return home, I unloaded the presents from the trunk before I left for work, so that they would be there when the kids woke up. Big mistake. I was devastated. I had finally, had enough. I could not believe that this had happened. I know most question us as to how stupid could we be, especially me, as I was the adult. You have to understand, it is hard to blame someone who you love as a close friend, or family member, and so hard to believe that someone who is supposed to love you in the same way, would actually steal from you, from your children, when they stand in front of you, looking you dead in the face, swearing they will help you find the person that would do such a terrible thing. But it happened.
The time for change had come. In packing some of our things, I moved the dresser, and it felt like a knife stabbed me in the gut. There were the little calendar’s that my dear Mother had put together and hid for my children. They were torn and ripped apart, and every quarter was missing from its little spot. I sank to the floor, because of all the things that were taken from me, this hurt the most because at that moment, I felt how much what she had done meant to her. Whoever stole the quarters, had no regard for what anything meant, no respect, no consideration for another human being. To them it was money, probably used to buy weed, alcohol or pills, and the worst things was, it was one or more of my so-called “friends”. I went to the closet frantically and looked for the “goofy” piggy bank, it was gone. My Mother didn’t take her bedroom furniture when she left, and a lot of the things she had were still in the dresser drawer. I went and looked in the drawer where the silver dollars and fifty cent pieces had been, the jar was there, and one fifty cent piece was still there. How kind of them to leave one. Life taught me a valuable lesson that day, one that I have not let go of and never will.
Years later, my Mother passed away. In going through her things, I came a cross a Tylenol bottle. I was about to throw it away, but it felt heavy. I opened the lid and my breath caught in my throat. There were about ten buffalo nickels in the bottle. A smile came across my face. Even in the pain, I knew she had managed to hang on to something that I have yet figured out how to do. She moved on, forgave, and started over. No matter how much someone took from her, they never took her will, and in that, they will never take mine. Those nickels in the bottle brought a new hope within me, and a hard lesson learned about real life, and how some people really are. I still have the medicine bottle, with the ten buffalo nickels in a drawer, hidden, behind some old socks…