Roll Coins

Staying a week at Meemaw’s was the highlight of my summers growing up in North Alabama. Some summers I was lucky enough to get a week at Granny Porch’s, too, especially when my cousin from Texas visited. I only remember my kid brother coming along to Meemaw’s one time, but I’m sure it was the regular thing. What good is a break for a mama when she’s still got one in tow?

Seems like my brother and I were a bit older that particular summer that always comes to mind. We were definitely old enough to know better than to bicker endlessly and drive our poor Meemaw to tears. You better believe we both had tears in our eyes after our mama got ahold of us. I’m still shamed some 40 years later for not being “big” enough to quit egging him on. I don’t think either one of us could sit down for the rest of that day!

That was back in the “cut your own switch” era. When my mama pulled up unexpected several days ahead of schedule, I knew we were in for it. You better believe I never purposefully vexed Meemaw again.

One thing we always did during Meemaw Week was roll coins. She pitched loose change in the drawer by her recliner all year long. We brought our paltry little piggy banks. Mine usually had more dust in it than money, but I knew I could get my little brother to trade me all my big, shiny nickels for his teensy dimes. I scammed him for years without feeling even a hint of guilt.

We would pile all that treasure on her formica-topped table and start separating. Once we got all the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters sorted on their own corners, we commenced to counting.

My brother would stack the quarters four high and I would count out 50 pennies again and again. Meemaw did the actual work of fitting that change into the correct paper cylinders. I got the honor of writing her phone number (I remember it to this day) on every roll in ink.

By the time we finished this annual chore, our hands reeked of that distinct metallic odor and we had been filled with stories of the family, all sorted, rolled, labeled, and stacked in our memories.

The real treasure wasn’t the money at all. It was the time learning about the good old days without even realizing we were in class. Now, whenever I sit down to the work of rolling up the piggy bank, I think of Meemaw.

What became of all that change? Meemaw would drive us to the bank and deposit it into “our” savings accounts. The bank teller gave us lollipops. It gathered interest until she cashed out the account to present as my wedding gift, a culmination of years of collecting and rolling coins for each of her grandchildren.

It is a legacy I hope to pass along to my own future grandchildren.

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