“Penny” or Angel?

"My penny angel"

“My penny angel”

I’ve always had a fascination with finding pennies on the ground. Seem to find them at very coincidental times of my life. Heading on a trip and afraid to fly….found a penny at the airline ticket counter. Leaving the hospital after my late husband passed away….found a penny near the car in the parking ramp. Struggling with family issues and deep in thought…found a penny on the sidewalk walking into the store. It seems to happen at the strangest, but most opportune, times. I equate finding pennies on the ground with an angel grabbing my arm and saying “hey, I’ve got a message for you! Listen.” Pennies placed in my life path always get my attention.

The most profound experience I recall with “angel pennies” was the day of my hip surgery. I was fairly anxious, but so ready for the procedure. I wanted the procedure done and over so the pain would go away. I’d never had surgery before in my life. That morning, as I walked towards the hospital with my husband, I found a penny on the sidewalk right in my footsteps. Somehow it didn’t surprise me. I took it as a sign that my angels were sending another message. Everything would be OK. Once inside the surgical registration area, I met with various nurses, residents and my doctor in preparation for the procedure. Laying in the bed, waiting my turn to be launched down the hallway to OR, I pulled the blanket tighter, said silent prayers and tried to remain calm. A patient to my right, behind the privacy curtain, was highly agitated and nervously chattering away to the nurse. I couldn’t see her, but her nervousness was eating away at my composure and the anxiety inside me was starting to build. When will my bed get the green light to “go”? To my left, the post-op recovery area starts to fill up with noises of returning patients. I hear an elderly woman moaning and crying. My nerves start to elevate along with the increasing strength of her cries. “Please, dear God, get me the heck out of here”, I silently say to myself.

In the distance, walking towards me I see a woman in surgical garb. She is wearing a bright red sweater. My Grandmother’s favorite color. My favorite color. When I was a little girl, she knit me a bright red sweater. I still have it. Stored in a box in my closet. No longer able to wear, due to size, but still keeps me warm when I see it and reflect on memories of Grandma. She was the best. Had such a beautiful and mischievous smile. She’d always have something funny to say or make a face that would get me smiling. She loved african violets too. So do I. Miss her very much and wish she were still here to keep me warm and smiling.

The nurse walks up to my bed with a big smile. She says “hello” and informs me that she will be with me during the entire surgery and not to be afraid. I tell her I like her sweater and ask her name. She replies, “Penny”. Unbelievable. A huge grin covers my face and tears begin to well up in my eyes. A comforting, warm calm covers my body and I relax. I’m in great hands. She rolls my bed down the hallway to the operating room. The surgical team helps shift me over to the operating table, lay my arms out to each side, my thoughts turn to Jesus on the cross, I close my eyes. “Dear Jesus, help me”.

“You’re OK.” “You’re in the recovery room.”
I made it. Holy crap, I’m OK. I’m alive. I’m waking up. It’s all over. Thank you, God. Thank you, Grandma.

"Grandma's red sweater"

“Grandma’s red sweater”

“Surgery is now in progress”

My "baby" and her friend.

My “baby” and her friend.

I read the words on the message board and take a deep breath. My baby is in surgery. She’s only 16 years old, going on 26, but still my baby. She’ll be just fine. I repeat that thought in my mind. Already visited the chapel, said many prayers, had several cups of coffee and a bite to eat. Settling in for the several hour wait. Recalling a time similar to this, years gone by, when only an infant, the waiting and praying also took place. So tiny. So scared. Listening to Mommy’s voice and songs, through bandaged eyes and covered head, the little soul inside hung on bravely. My voice and attempts at lullabies the only form of communication she knew. The pinky finger I offered her to hold onto was the lifeline between the two of us. I remember her tiny little fingers, a few of them, holding onto my pinky. Curled around mine tightly, afraid, but safe with Mommy nearby. She survived that day’s experience and grew beautifully in life. Now, another stepping stone to be crossed over before moving forward again. Just as scared. Just as brave. She’s in good hands again today and everyday in God’s good hands. So blessed to have her in my life and proud to be her Mommy humming the lullabies in my head.