Filling Up & Letting Go

Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 86 years old. 

He would have been waiting at the house sugaring the kids up when we pulled into the driveway with our college freshman and her Suburban-load of dirty laundry and plastic bins. He would have loved seeing the yearbook picture that his first grandson sent us with his smile plastered on the faculty page for the first time. He would be immensely proud as he listened to his granddaughter talk nonstop about the new level of badassery she is forging in a career path that no one saw coming. He would be quizzing the newly licensed driver in the house to see if she had changed her oil lately or needed gas money, then slip her a $20 bill just in case. He would have been the first to tell the disappointed 2nd place finisher that she would always be a 1st place to him. And his arms would have certainly enveloped, embraced and lifted the two youngest in our family for scoring their first soccer goals of the season.

My extraordinary dad would have celebrated his birthday in the most ordinary of ways because he understood the real gift that is given to us is in the every day. He was really good at sharing smiles with those he met along his way, and I’m not quite done celebrating the kindness he left behind.

Regular followers of the Fields of Poppy blog may remember my Poppy Penny jar, coins that I began to collect after my dad’s passing several years ago. I’d see a penny in the parking lot while opening my car door, a quarter at the gas pump, or even a small handful of coins right there on the sidewalk. Since my dad never passed a coin on the ground without picking it up, finding these little reminders of him helped me to turn my grief into smiles and inspired me to think about something special I could do with all of the Poppy Pennies I seemed to find all around me.

As my jar started to spill over a few months ago, I decided to put those little smiles into action and chose this day, my dad’s birthday, to empty it. 

I toted the heavy jar into the local credit union yesterday and poured the change into the money counter.  The letting go, cent by cent, was harder than I had imagined. I didn’t realize just how attached I’d become to those little pieces of him that I had picked up and stored away.  The change clinked and clanged as I held back and let go.

Inspired by him, those Poppy Pennies will buy some smiles today that I will not see, but I assure you I will feel every one. Today those Poppy Pennies will connect a father, a daughter, a family and a community that has loved us all well. On this May 10th those Poppy Pennies will help me to understand that our legacy of kindness and generosity may be the best parts of us that we leave behind.

See the kindness today.  Feel the kindness today.  Be the kindness today.  

Tomorrow the refilling begins.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s