You know people deal with death and grief differently. Some look for signs or messages. Others shut down. Some people pull up there bootstraps to push through as fast as they can. I’m a firm believer of well, all of it.

I have tried to help today clear things out so that Mom can focus on remembering a happier time before cancer. I talk a lot about doing the hard work now while you’re hurting so you don’t have open old wounds later. I try to stay busy so I don’t have to think. As a side note, busy looks a little different when you suffer from jet lag. I also look for signs without even realizing it.

When Dad died, it was a whirlwind. Tye just announced a divorce and that he was coming back home. I had less than a week off from my job without pay because I had just started working as a copywriter. Ray was supposed to start his first deployment and Mom was about to become an HSE. It was a crazy time in our lives and in the blink of an eye Dad wasn’t going to be there to walk with us through it. Oh it hurt. Right now, this reminds me of that time. I guess I might be anxious to shake the hurt off.

Anyway, the day of the funeral we got home and there was a shiny new penny propped on the door just like someone had placed it there. Dad always liked to tell us that we needed to pick up stray pennies because it would remind us who to trust. Get it yet? “In God we trust…” We all talked about how weird it was. As the year after his death went on we found pennies just when we needed to. It was always when you needed to see it and placed at a precarious position to make you wonder how it got there. It still happens. On the way to get Jack from China we were walking down that long tunnel to board the plane. Right there in front of my foot was a shiny new penny. I still have it. It was like he needed to go along with us and I definitely needed to remember who to trust!

So, cut to my second flight of three to try to get home. I sat down on the plane and watched as everyone else boarded. I’m a bit of a people watcher. You know the guy I mentioned yesterday, the sick one. I was watching him try to shove a too giant suitcase in the carryon bin. A toothpick fell. I thought someone would pick it up. It was just lying there on the blue carpet. I stared at that thing through the entire flight. I kept thinking its trash maybe I should pick it up. I certainly didn’t want whatever Mr. Sweaty Sick had. I still had another layover, flight and drive from Nashville. That toothpick seriously tortured me through that flight. I wanted to pick it up the whole time and couldn’t understand why it was there.

So I finally make it to Golo. I was greeted by a big old loving group. Naturally stories are coming out at a time like this. I was chatting with someone. People were asking me how my trip was and someone was talking about finding toothpicks. Then I heard Mom say, “Well yes, we’re going to put a toothpick behind his ear.”

I swear to you it was like a train hit me. The toothpick!!! It was Ned’s thing. He always had one or 100. There was always one tucked behind his ear for later. I was exhausted from the flight and wanted to wait to tell Mom. That’s happened so now I’m sharing it with you…whoever cares to listen to me blabber.

I have one last thing to say. Ned, I am so happy to know you are looking out for me. I’m happy to have you go anywhere I go. There is something I need to tell you. I will pick up my Daddy’s pennies. I will not be picking up your durn used toothpicks but I love you for dropping them!