In 2004, my Mor Far (Danish for “Mother’s Father”) passed away after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for nearly eight years. Before that, Mor Far was a successful San Francisco businessman who really understood how to make money—and more importantly, how to save it.
One of my favorite early childhood memories is of the time Mor Far took us to get a treat. After a family reunion, Mor Far drove my two siblings and me to the local 7-Eleven where we each picked out a candy bar. He thought that was way too extravagant; he wanted us to divide a Milky Way into three equal parts and share it.
Many years later, I visited him at Brighton Gardens where, toward the end of his life, he was under 24-hour care. He couldn’t remember much, but he knew that I worked in entertainment. One day, he surprised me by calling me by name. He greeted me warmly saying, “Hi Krista, how’s Hollywood?” But that familiarity quickly dissipated when he politely asked me who my parents were and where they’d raised me. Every two minutes of our visit, it was like he was meeting me for the first time.
His memory was sporadic, but I really wanted to connect with him. I decided to choose a conversation topic I knew he was passionate about: Saving. So I told him the exact amount of money I’d saved in my William Morris 401K. He was so delighted. His face beamed with joy. He kept repeating the number and smiled, proud of my discipline. Several minutes passed and then he blurted out, “Do you really have that much in your 401K?” Now let me tell you, it was not a large number at all. But what made him happy was that I’d started at zero and built it up. If I’m honest, I was pretty pleased with myself, too. At that point I kept a pretty frugal lifestyle, so even a little savings would go a really long way.
At the end of our half-hour visit, he repeated the amount in my 401K again (he had already done it about five times!). Each time he repeated it, every single digit was correct—right down to the penny. I loved this exchange. It was important for me to see him happy, especially since I knew this might be the last time I’d ever see him.
I’m not even sure if I ever told my family this story, but at the gravesite when we said our final goodbyes to Mor Far, I dropped a penny into the ground where he would be buried. I said a prayer that pennies would always be my reminder that I’m on the right path and my Mor Far is with me. Since that time, pennies from heaven have appeared at the most interesting times and when I’ve needed to see them the most.
As I’ve embarked on a new career building my company My Grads Get Jobs, I’m constantly reminded that I’m on the right path by all of the amazing emails and texts my students and clients send me. But I’m also reminded by experiences like the one I had last week. While I was walking my dog, I came across an enormous pile of probably over a hundred pennies, and I smiled.
What’s the symbol that bolsters your belief that you’re on the right track? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below or shoot me an email!