This story, “The Pickle Jar”, author unknown, makes me cry each time I read it. It speaks of a parent’s unconditional love. More than anything, it warms my heart, because my Mom did exactly the same for me.
Have a read! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments! ♥
The Pickle Jar
The pickle jar, for as long and as far back as I can remember, sat on the floor next to the dresser in my parents’ bedroom. Every night, just before he went to bed, Dad emptied his pockets and put the coins into the jar.
When I was small, I found it exciting to hear the sounds made by the coins as they were put into the jar. It sounded like a merry jingle especially when the jar was empty. Gradually, as it filled up, the tones turned into a dull thud. I enjoyed squatting on the floor in front of the jar and admiring the shiny coins, glinting like treasure when the sunlight fell on them through the bedroom window.
Each time the jar was full, Dad sat at the kitchen table and rolled the coins before taking them to the bank to deposit. This was kind of a big deal. He stacked the coins neatly in a little box and placed it between him and me on the seat of his old truck. As we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me, hope in his eyes, and say, “These coins will keep you out of the textile mill, son. You will do better than me. This old mill town is not going to hold you back.”
And during each visit to the bank, when he slid the box of coins across the counter to the cashier, he would smile proudly, saying, “these are for my son’s college fund. He will never work at the mill all his life, like me.”
Once the coins were deposited, we would celebrate by stopping for an ice cream cone. I loved the chocolate and Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed over the change, Dad would show me the coins on his palm and say, “When we’re home, we’ll start filling the jar again!”
He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As we listened to the musical sound, we would grin at each other. He’d say, “You’ll go to college on these pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. But you will get there. I’ll make sure of that!”
The years went by.
I finished college and got a job in another town.
During one of my visits to my parents, I went to use the phone in their bedroom and was surprised to see the pickle jar gone. I sighed. It had done what it was meant to do and was now no longer there. I felt a lump in my throat as I looked at the spot by the dresser where it used to stand. My dad was not the chatty type and never lectured me about life, the values of determination, perseverance and faith. It was the pickle jar that had taught me all this much more eloquently than words could ever have.
Eventually, I got married and I told my wife about the significant part the pickle jar had played in my life while growing up. In my mind, it was more than just the pickle jar—it was proof of how much my dad loved me. Regardless of how tough things were at home, he would always drop his coins in the jar. Even during summer, when he was laid off his job at the mill, and we had eaten dried beans several times a week, he had never taken a single coin from that jar.
In fact, when we sat at the table, as he watched me pouring ketchup over my beans to make them edible, he looked more determined than ever to find me the best way out. He said, eyes glittering, “When you finish college, son, you will never need to eat beans again . . . not unless you want to!”
After my daughter was born, we spent the first Christmas with my parents. We had had dinner and Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, enjoying holding their first grandchild. When the baby started to whimper, my wife took her from Dad’s arms, saying she probably needed to be changed, and carried her to my parents’ bedroom. When she returned to the living room, I noticed her eyes were wet and she had a strange expression. She handed the baby back to Dad and taking my hand, led me out of the room.
“Look!” she said, as her eyes went to the spot on the floor by the dresser. I was amazed to see the old pickle jar standing there, as if it had never been away. The bottom was already filled with coins. I walked over to the jar, pulled a handful of coins from my pocket and, choking with emotion, dropped the coins in the jar. I looked up to see Dad who had walked in, holding the baby and our eyes met. I knew he felt what I was feeling.
Neither of us could speak.
Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, reflections, easy meditation, thought-provoking questions and humor.