The Pickle Jar
>> 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 and 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
>> 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."
>> 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, and
>>never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and
>>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.
>> 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 e 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 look ed 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
>> This truly touched my heart. I know it has yours as well. Sometimes
>>we are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our
>> 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 God in others.
>>The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched - they must
>>be felt with the heart ~ Helen Keller