Author Guest Post
My Dad's Pennies
I don't know how many year my dad collected pennies, but I do know that from the time I returned home after a dozen years of wandering a large, heavy glass water bottle stood in the corner of the kitchen collecting pennies. A few years later, when my daughter stood as tall as the jar, he'd put a penny in her tiny hand and guide it into the jar, listening for the plink, always making certain it never reached her mouth instead. Now my daughter is a lovely young woman of twenty-five and her Boppa has been gone since 2002.
For seven more years after my father's death while my mother continued to live in the same house, the penny jar held its spot in the corner of the kitchen though few if any pennies were added to Dad's collection. After all, he had alternately referred to those pennies as his retirement fund or his vacation fund. Now he had no use for either.
During my mother's final years in dementia care, the penny jar went into a storage unit along with her other possessions. When she passed in 2013 and my siblings and I disposed of her small estate, the penny jar landed in the corner of my small writing room and there it stood forlorn and unwanted for another year and a half.
As summer comes to another close and I sort and organize in preparation for family visits and the start of a new academic year, my hours of silent writing and long bike rides coming to an end, I decide it's time to say good-bye to the penny jar.
In a task that my back muscles whine about the following day, I heft the penny jar to a sofa and tip it empty to the floor. The pennies fill two gallon-sized freezer bags. I settle them into a fabric grocery bag, but the weight is more than I can carry out to my car. I hear Dad reminding me of the dangers of "a lazy man's load" and make two trips to the car. In the supermarket parking lot I load the pennies into a shopping cart and head to the green Coinstar machine at the front of the store. "Out of Order." I push the cart back out to my car, cursing under my breath. At supermarket number two, I'm smarter. I walk in without Dad's pennies to check that the machine is in working order. Then back out to the car with a shopping cart to haul in my load. And there the racket begins.
As I sift through the pennies, pushing them into the machine, Dad is with me, his hand guiding my own, his calloused, arthritic fingers the last to have touched most of these coins. Tears of memory and mortality fill my eyes. I pull out three super shiny pennies for my daughter, my husband and myself, the kind Dad used to save for my daughter when she was a toddler. I reach the bottom of the second bag and push through the last of the rejected pennies my finger tips now coated in years black filth.
The machine makes its final calculation, and I laugh at the total. The monetary value, the gift my father left in the glass penny jar I empty on the eve of my sixtieth birthday comes to $60.60. I can still hear his laughter.
About The Author
Arleen Williams is the author of two books: Running Secrets, the first novel in The Alki Trilogy, and The Thirty-Ninth Victim, a memoir of her family’s journey before and after her sister’s murder. She teaches English as a Second Language at South Seattle College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for close to three decades. Arleen lives and writes in West Seattle. To learn more, please visit www.arleenwilliams.com.
Biking Uphill by Arleen Williams
Book 2: The Alki Trilogy
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Format: Paperback - 274 pages
Kindle - 743 KB
Nook - 511 KB
Genre: Women's Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: Biking Uphill
BUY THE TRILOGY: The Alki Trilogy
Book 1: Running Secrets
Book 2: Biking Uphill
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
Fifteen years later, only Antonia recognizes her old friend when she and Carolyn meet again in an ESL classroom, but she conceals her secret. Carolyn arranges a class project for Antonia-to job-shadow her friend and housemate, Gemi Kemmal. Gemi learns Antonia's dangerous circumstances when Antonia arrives for work with bruises barely concealed by thick makeup and offers her sanctuary just as Carolyn had years earlier. Together the three women confront Antonia's abuser and build a family of enduring friendship.
Biking Uphill, the second book in the Alki Trilogy, invites the reader into a world of undocumented immigration, where parents are deported, and a young girl is abandoned to face life on her own.
My Book Review:
Biking Uphill is the poignant and uplifting story of the power of a supportive friendship that helps one young woman overcome and survive racism and abuse.
Author Arleen Williams weaves a compelling and powerful second book in The Alki Trilogy, that thoughtfully deals with the sensitive social and political issues of illegal alien immigration and the treatment of migrant farmers, racism, and abusive relationships. The reader is easily drawn into the story as it follows the supportive friendship bonds that Antonia forms with Carolyn and Gemi, and her journey of self-discovery and empowerment to survive and become a strong young woman.
I loved the author's style of weaving an inspirational tale that interweaves the theme of friendships, community, and a sense of family through different generations, cultures, and languages into a thought provoking story that depicts the complexity of a variety of social issues that tugs at the heartstrings and stirs the soul.
Biking Uphill is a wonderful story that will take the reader on a journey of self-discovery, friendship, and redemption.
RATING: 5 STARS
Virtual Book Tour
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