Pennies From Heaven

Pennies From Heaven

A few short years ago, my wonderful father-in-law Bill was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer.

My husband and I traveled to the Midwest to visit Bill and my mother-in-law Betty. We were happy to be able to spend a little time with him, and he knew we were there.

Sadly, he passed away the night before we left.

We believe he held on until my husband arrived; all his other children lived nearby.

Later, as my husband and I were sitting in the airport restaurant waiting for our flight home, I looked down and spotted a shiny, bright penny dated with the current year.

I lost it.

I believe I had just found a “penny from heaven.”

Here’s what I mean: I am a loyal reader of Dear Abby.

I read her words every day.

A topic that frequently comes up in her column is the phenomenon readers call pennies from heaven.

Many readers have reported they have found pennies in unusual places shortly after the death of a friend or loved one.

Abby calls these pennies from heaven. She says the pennies are messages from their departed–nothing scary or foreboding. Just a little “hello.”

I picked up the penny and shared it with my husband. He had never heard the story of pennies from heaven. As I tearfully explained it, he began to cry, too.

We sat in that rundown restaurant, holding each other and crying for what seemed like hours.

As we started to leave to make our flight, I found another penny in the same spot as the first.

No one had approached us or had been near our table the whole time we were in the restaurant.

The year on the penny? The year we were married.

More tears. More hugs.

A week later, when I spoke at Bill’s funeral, I told the story of the pennies and relayed that I thought Bill, ever the jokester, just wanted to get his two cents in.

Ever since that day in the airport restaurant, a special penny has shown up in the oddest places:

  • In Bermuda, in a part of a museum where no one is allowed to walk. We were there with my mother-in-law and parents. (Bill and Betty had planned to go together before he died).
  • On a coffee table when my husband and I were in the Grand Caymans (on a table that had been clear an hour before).
  • On the floor of a fully cleaned operating room, after one of my scrub technicians had lost her husband to a heart attack.

Oprah once interviewed Karen Armstrong, a former Catholic nun and expert on many religions. She asked Karen what she believes happens to us when we die.

Karen replied, “I have no idea. And I’m fine with that.”

When I heard that, I thought about the pennies and the hope I feel each time I find one.

That hope reminds me of the hope our patients carry when they visit our offices, afraid their illness might be serious or life threatening.

At times like these, I’m grateful for the pennies.


CATEGORIES: Blog on February 3, 2014 by Starla Fitch, M.D.

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8 thoughts on “Pennies From Heaven

  1. Mary

    I considered running across your story about ‘pennies from heaven’ as a penny from heaven itself! My three siblings and I lost our mother a year ago this month. The four of us find pennies from time to time and always share the discovery with each other. Thanks heaven for iPhones with cameras! Outside a local store I recently found a dollar! We all joked it couldn’t have been from our mother because she never would have left that amount behind! Thank you for the wonderful story – I shared it with my brothers and sister.

    1. Starla Fitch, M.D Post author

      Mary, thanks for your sweet comment. So sorry for the loss of your mother. I read your comment to my O.R. staff today and found out a lot of the staff had seen some “pennies from heaven” too! Blessings to you and your siblings.

  2. Chris

    I often find pennies from 1970 or 1998, the birth and death years of my younger brother. I often find them when I need a boost or the gentle reminder that my departed family are still with me. I recall finding a 1998 penny at the grocery store — as I was hurriedly walking my eyes seemed to be guided directly to it on the floor. Less than a week later, my beloved cat, dying of kidney disease, wandered off to die. Tough time but I knew that Danny was near to help me through it.

    1. Starla Fitch, M.D. Post author

      Chris, I can totally relate to your story of finding pennies from heaven. Sending you hugs and blessings. When times are tough, remember to be gentle with yourself. That’s what the pennies tell me. Hugs.

    1. Starla Fitch, M.D. Post author

      Ken, I totally think those Euro coins could be winks from your mother. When my husband and I took his mother to Bermuda, after my father-in-law’s death, we found a penny as we walked along a historical site. At that point, my mother-in-law relayed that going to Bermuda was something she and “Pops” had always wanted to do. Bittersweet. Hugs to you, friend!


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