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The Pickle Jar

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The 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.

As 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.

I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar to 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 bank.

Taking 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.

Each 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.'

Also, 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 like me.'

We 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.

No 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.

To 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 want to.'

The 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.

A 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: he
never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and
faith. The 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.

The 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.
'She 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 her eyes.

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.

This truly touched my heart. Sometimes we are so busy adding up our
troubles that we forget to count our blessings. Never underestimate
the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a
person's life, for better or for worse.

God puts us all in each other's lives to impact one another in some
way. Look for GOOD in others.

The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched - they
must be felt with the heart ~ Helen Keller

This story was sent to me by a friend. I do not know the author but I do think there is a very appropriate message in it for all of us. "Never underestimate the power of your actions". We can add to this or take it with a grain of salt. It is your choice on how you will affect another.

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