Tucked away at our house, in a safe place with other important items, are two rolls of nickels. They are wrapped in the paper sleeves that people use to roll coins themselves. On those paper wrappings is handwritten “1958”.
Upon seeing them early in our marriage, I asked my husband what the significance was of those nickels. He explained that they were from his Aunt Barb and were special. They stayed in their rightful place with other things valuable to us.
Years later, when looking through keepsakes, a card was found which further explained those rolls of nickels. Aunt Barb had written a poem to go along with them.
Your special year of birth
Has been recorded here on earth.
So I saved these nickels only for you,
Just a few, old and new.
So put them in a place that’s safe and secure,
As someday they’ll be worth more, I’m sure.
Since your Aunt Barb is neither rich nor cheap,
These coins are for you to keep.
To help remember me with love
When I’m in heaven up above.
With much love always,
She cared about each of her nieces and nephews from the moment they were born; and, as a symbol of that, the nickels were all from the birth year of that particular niece or nephew. The first of her nieces and nephews, my husband, was born in 1958. That explained the writing on the paper wrapping.
There are 40 nickels in a roll, 80 in two rolls, and Aunt Barb had 9 nieces and nephews. That means she found, separated and rolled 720 nickels. I can picture Aunt Barb collecting nickels for months to have the correct number for each loved child, then carefully sorting them on the floor or at a table Then she put them together with the card and poem and gave them at Christmas. This was only one of many creative things that Aunt Barb did to show her love to family so they would know they were special to her.
She sent fun gifts at Christmas – one year it was this plaque to remind us of what’s important.
She sent birthday and anniversary cards every year, and every year she knew how old you were and how long you’d been married; and she included that in her greeting. It made us feel special.
Her love of family led her to become the family historian. She took and labelled pictures of family gatherings and special events through decades. She collected information for the family tree, gathered information and stories and put all of it together in history books about each side of the family; then she printed them for each member of the family. She openly honored her parents and ancestors so that younger family members would know who and where they came from; and she spoke boldly of family faith, values and morals so younger ones would know which direction they should follow. She let you know the special things about our family. She knew how to have fun. She assigned and carried out themes tor gatherings and loved to hear laughter. We all knew her laugh when we heard it, even from a distance.
But it wasn’t just about what Aunt Barb did, it was about how she made you feel. She asked the right questions, gave the best responses and looked at you in a way that convinced you that that you were someone special. Always a welcoming ear, she could console and encourage with a touch of a hand or just her eyes.
Aunt Barb battled health issues during her last years. She died in 2017. It was horribly sad for her children and her husband. It was terribly sad for the rest of the family who had been so loved by her, and it was a sad day for every person who knew her. We were sad because we knew life wouldn’t be the same without her. And things have not been the same since she left. We knew it before, but it’s obvious now….while Aunt Barb was so good at making us feel special, she was the special one.
As Aunt Barb hoped when she gave my husband those nickels all those years ago, they do help him remember her with love. What Aunt Barb didn’t know at the time she gave them to him all those years ago, was how much I, his wife, would love and remember her too.