pickle jar as far back as I can
remember sat on the floor beside
the dresser in my parents' bedroom.
When he got ready for bed, Dad would
empty his pockets and toss his coins
into the jar.
a small boy I was always fascinated
at the sounds the coins made as
they were dropped into the jar.
They landed with a merry jingle
when the jar was almost empty. Then
the tones gradually muted to a dull
thud as the jar was filled.
used to squat on the floor in front
of the jar and admire the copper
and silver circles that glinted
like a pirate's treasure when the
sun poured through the bedroom window.
When the jar was filled, Dad would
sit at the kitchen table and roll
the coins before taking them to
the coins to the bank was always
a big production. Stacked neatly
in a small cardboard box, the coins
were placed between Dad and me on
the seat of his old truck.
and every time, as we drove to the
bank, Dad would look at me hopefully.
"Those coins are going to keep
you out of the textile mill, son.
You're going to do better than me.
This old mill town's not going to
hold you back."
each and every time, as he slid
the box of rolled coins across the
counter at the bank toward the cashier,
he would grin proudly "These
are for my son's college fund. He'll
never work at the mill all his life
would always celebrate each deposit
by stopping for an ice cream cone.
I always got chocolate. Dad always
got vanilla. When the clerk at the
ice cream parlor handed Dad his
change, he would show me the few
coins nestled in his palm. "When
we get home, we'll start filling
the jar again." He always let
me drop the first coins into the
empty jar. As they rattled around
with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned
at each other. "You'll get
to college on pennies, nickels,
dimes and quarters," he said.
"But you'll get there. I'll
see to that."
years passed, and I finished college
and took a job in another town.
Once, while visiting my parents,
I used the phone in their bedroom,
and noticed that the pickle jar
was gone. It had served its purpose
and had been removed.
lump rose in my throat as I stared
at the spot beside the dresser where
the jar had always stood. My dad
was a man of few words, and never
lectured me on the values of determination,
perseverance, and faith.
pickle jar had taught me all these
virtues far more eloquently than
the most flowery of words could
have done. When I married, I told
my wife Susan about the significant
part the lowly pickle jar had played
in my life as a boy. In my mind,
it defined, more than anything else,
how much my dad had loved me.
matter how rough things got at home,
Dad continued to doggedly drop his
coins into the jar. Even the summer
when Dad got laid off from the mill,
and Mama had to serve dried beans
several times a week, not a single
dime was taken from the jar.
the contrary, as Dad looked across
the table at me, pouring catsup
over my beans to make them more
palatable, he became more determined
than ever to make a way out for
me. "When you finish college,
Son," he told me, his eyes
glistening, "You'll never have
to eat beans again - unless you
first Christmas after our daughter
Jessica was born, we spent the holiday
with my parents. After dinner, Mom
and Dad sat next to each other on
the sofa, taking turns cuddling
their first grandchild. Jessica
began to whimper softly, and Susan
took her from Dad's arms.
probably needs to be changed,"
she said, carrying the baby into
my parents' bedroom to diaper her.
When Susan came back into the living
room, there was a strange mist in
She handed Jessica back to Dad before
taking my hand and leading me into
the room. "Look," she
said softly, her eyes directing
me to a spot on the floor beside
the dresser. To my amazement, there,
as if it had never been removed,
stood the old pickle jar, the bottom
already covered with coins. I walked
over to the pickle jar, dug down
into my pocket, and pulled out a
fistful of coins. With a gamut of
emotions choking me, I dropped the
coins into the jar. I looked up
and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica,
had slipped quietly into the room.
Our eyes locked, and I knew he was
feeling the same emotions I felt.
Neither one of us could speak.
truly touched my heart. I know it
has yours as well. Sometimes we
are so busy adding up our troubles
that we forget to count our blessings.
underestimate the power of your
actions. With one small gesture
you can change a person's life,
for better or for worse.
puts us all in each other's lives
to impact one another in some way.
Look for God in others.
The best and most beautiful things
cannot be seen or touched - they
must be felt with the heart ~ Helen