A Piece of History

My eye has been scanning the ground now for the past day- eyes like a broom brushing  the crevices of the floor.  I had all but given up, until, at last, my eyes rested on a small silver coin held by a leather tie on the ground in the parking lot- right beside my car- insert trumpet fanfare and choral jubilation here.

Why the joy?  The treasure that I found is a coin dated 1779, during Louis XVI’s reign.  If that connection to history is not enough, the coin has a story in the book of my life.

My grandfather knew he was dying of cancer, so he decided to have a party of sorts- to give away important objects.  I was ten at the time, and while all of the older grandchildren were getting gifts, I was left out- I was crushed.  Then at the very end of the ‘party,’ my grandfather and my great-aunt took me aside and gave me my gift- it was a small black wallet with rare coins.  I was in awe.  They told me they thought I would appreciate the history and significance of these treasures. I filed this memory in the chapter of my life entitled ‘rare gifts that helped to shape the person I would like to be’.

In my teenage years and in university I wore the coin in memory of my grandfather and to demonstrate my love of history and the past. I asked a history teacher that specialized in French history about it one year and he told me it was a French Ecu.  I’m sure there was more information he imparted, but I have forgotten it.  The coin was a link to my grandfather and the past- that was enough.

The first time I lost the coin I was going out to dinner with my boyfriend from university.  When I got home from the dinner I realized that the coin was gone.  My agony was palpable.  To my utter amazement and joy, my boyfriend returned the coin to me weeks later.  How did he find it?  He had gone to every pawn shop and antique store he could find looking for it- he found it.  It was without bravado that he mentioned that had it not a hole drilled into it- it would have been too much for him to buy back.  After this, it developed another significance:  a symbol of loyalty and commitment.

Will I wear it again? Possibly. I am simply not the type of person who believes we should keep our most cherished possessions in a cabinet to be dusted off and then put away- but I will get a new chain for it and wear it only on very special occasions.

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