Maggie has been rolling pennies she has been saving. She stacks up five piles of tens and then puts them in the cardboard sleeve to take to the bank. She's bundled up eight dollars worth already.
I asked her to watch for some special pennies. Not just the ones that her Uncle Tommy has told her are valuable. I wanted one each from the years 1996, 1997, 1999, 2006, and 1959. Except for the 2006 one, it's something I've been meaning to do for years.
It all began when Kim and I got married. It was something that bonded me to my father-in-law in the same ceremony where I was publicly committing to a public bond with Kim.
We had an unusual wedding. We wanted to make sure that both the Catholic and Jewish traditions were represented and so I spent quite a bit of time researching both versions of the wedding ceremony and their histories.
I wanted a time on the wedding day when Kim and I could be together and spend some quiet time just hanging out away from everyone. There was a traditional time when a couple retired to a tent between the ceremony and the celebration. The traditional reason was to get started on creating a family. For us it was nice just to sit down quietly with each other away from people pulling us this way or that. It was fifteen minutes when we didn't have to do something.
The ceremony itself was a nice blend of both religions. Father Mark Hobson officiated the Catholic portion and my great uncle Mel did the Jewish portion. The funniest moments were when the two cultures intermixed. When Mel lost his place in the reading, Mark leaned over and showed him his place in the Hebrew. Not to be outdone by a priest, Mel said loudly "I read that part already."
I had carefully scripted the service with stage directions for when people would exit and enter. We had a Chuppah that had to be supported by hand and so my cousins and my friend Timothy held it in place until the wedding party entered and could take the poles from them and they returned at the end to support the canopy as we left.
When Kim came down the aisle the stage directions said that her father would escort her down the aisle to me and that, since I was taking Kim off his hands, a small amount of cash would not be inappropriate.
Sure enough, on that hot August afternoon when we were married, Tom escorted Kim down the aisle. In the research I had done, this tradition was to have originated in tribal days when a father would walk his daughter in front of the young eligible men in the village until one stepped forward to take her as his bride.
When Tom got to the front he left Kim with me and shook my hand. He leaned forward and pressed two pennies in my other hand and said "she's been giving me her two cents worth all her life, now it's your turn."
I put the pennies in my pocket and Kim and I walked back to Mel and Mark to be married.
Later, when we were in the quiet room together before going out to the reception I pulled the pennies out of my pocket and looked at them. Not just ordinary pennies. I smiled a big smile and said to Kim, "your dad."
"What?" she asked.
One of the pennies was from 1960 and one was from 1993. As he said later when I thanked him, "one is from the year she was born and one is from the year her life began with you."
And so I'd asked Maggie to help me complete the collection. One from the year I was born, one from the year she was born, one from the year her life began with us, one from the year Elena was born, and one from the year Elena died.