Thursday, December 14, 2006

Journal of a Living Lady #288

Nancy White Kelly

Low-budget coin-collecting has been my hobby for many years. Eventually I took the necessary courses to obtain ANA numismatic credentials. In the process I have met some interesting people.

Yesterday an elderly couple came by. He was 93. She was 87. They carried a small assortment of coins. A friend had recommended me to them as I occasionally buy old gold and pre-1965 silver coins.

This couple won my heart immediately. They would have been a push over for an unscrupulous person wishing to make a buck. That isn’t me. A wolf preying on helpless lambs is not my idea of Christianity.

The wife patted her husband’s cold hand while I went through the paper sacks. Unfortunately their small cache didn’t have a lot of value. It contained many foreign coins as well as modern copies and replicas that are highly advertised, yet thinly plated in gold. There isn’t much of a market for these glitzy come-ons. I made a fair offer and recommended that the couple get another estimate. They didn’t want to shop around.

“Write the check,” the aged man said. Assured that they were both pleased with the transaction, I obliged.

The two individuals were of more interest to me than their two sacks of coins. They live alone, far from relatives, on top of a nearby mountain. Their main source of heat is firewood. A single space heater warms the bedroom. I wondered how they managed. He was on a walker and she on a cane. Neither could walk appreciably well. The wife had just begun driving again after recuperating from a broken hip.

While we were inside talking, Buddy was outside washing their van windows and making sure the tires had air. We both could see the situation for what it was: two old people trying to survive in an expensive world.

As they left, the wife lovingly assisted her husband into the van. I held my breath, fearful that they might fall. It was obvious they had a routine. The wife shoved the man’s uncooperative right leg inside the vehicle. Then, with all the heave she could muster, she slammed the heavy door shut.

The wife reclaimed her cane, gave me a grateful smile, and asked for a hug. I gave her the biggest one I had.

Life is tough for many. I can only imagine what the situation will be for these two in another year. Half-jesting, I told the gentleman that I hoped I could get around as well as he did when I was in my nineties. He told me to stick around.

Maybe I will. So far my life has been an epoch of extraordinary encounters.