Spare Change
Spare Change

Spare Change and Legacies

My father, who died 17 years ago, used to keep a 5 gallon water jug for spare change. It was a way of saving, a game and my confession: my brother and I used to “steal/borrow” from it as children.

Dad wanted to see if he could fill it up but he expected to live much longer than 49 years…so he didn’t. And our sneaking didn’t help his goal, the quarters disappeared fast.

After he died, my mom kept it and added a little to it over the years.

Today, she handed it over to our kids; a heavy bowlful of change that can’t be counted in one sitting. It is a gift from a ghost and from a time when having kids were little more than maybe a thought to the 23-year-old me.

My kids are through-the-roof excited.

Dad touches them, with a small habit, very tangibly right now like a small bit of time travel.  I’m happy he could give them something they feel at this age, a small brushing of souls.

He touches us in many unseen ways too.

And maybe he meant to save the money for them and maybe he didn’t. I don’t know.

But legacies play this way. We think we know what we leave behind, but we don’t. We just do our best and leave it for the people left behind to make meaning of it. The meaning making is our legacy.


  1. What a beautiful post!!! When I was a child almost every family I knew had this tradition of saving change in all kinds of glass jars (in Germany). I wonder if they do it still, I doubt it a little… It´s a beautiful tradition I think, especially for kids. Have fun with it!!!

  2. Hi Ann – Thank you! My husband and I do this as well, though not as ambitiously as my dad and cash is really not used as much. Its like treasure to the kids though and a great math problem!

  3. Carla Reinke says:

    Love this post. But I’ll add I am sure Dana would have been disappointed if you hadn’t taken the coins. By the way, his father also had a stash of coins that Dana and his siblings raided.

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