When I realized today was International Storytelling Day, I immediately knew I wanted to participate, by way of my blog post. After all, story is my word for 2018, my theme for the year. I mulled over stories that came to mind. There are many I could tell, from humorous tales to magical encounters to stories that would make you sleep with the lights on. And yet, I knew really, what I would share…something close to my heart. It is a story about friendship.

Jamie A Story About Friendship

As I was writing in my journal last week, answering memoir questions from It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again, for ages 5-10, this question came up: Describe a close friend.

I thought of Jamie. The very first friend I remember having was a boy named Larry, when I was about three. We were great buddies. But Larry moved away with his family while we were still preschoolers. The person I considered my best childhood friend was Jamie. She was my next door neighbor, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, living with her parents, older brother Randy and younger sister Carrie. Randy was actually my age, and Jamie a year younger, placing her in between me and my younger sister Linda, age wise. And Carrie and my little sister Debbie were the same age.

The six of us played together frequently. Often, however, the two youngest children entertained each other, leaving us four older kids free to go on adventures or join together with the other kids in the neighborhood, playing hide and seek or riding our bikes around the block.

Jamie A Story About Friendship This newspaper clipping shows me, Linda, Randy and Jamie posing in front of a busted water line in our neighborhood.

Jamie and I entered into an easy friendship that lasted throughout our childhood, and as I wrote about her, on March 12, 2018, I noted that she was my closest friend during those years.

We had many things in common, Jamie and I. We were both the oldest girls in our families, we loved animals and felt a sense of compassion and responsibility for them, we went to the same school, one grade apart, played our favorite pretend game…school…together, and teamed up for sports. We were January babies, with my birthday on the 9th, and hers on the 15th, making us one year and six days apart. And we both had surgeries to remove benign tumors from our bodies, during our childhoods. Jamie had a tumor in her chest. I had one on my right leg. Both surgeries were a success.

We had so many fun adventures together, had sleep overs during which we talked all night. We played board games, wrote plays to perform in the backyard, hosted carnivals and held neighborhood fairs. We organized an exercise club, that didn’t last long, swam at the local pool, climbed trees and talked about everything under the sun.

After completing sixth grade, I moved to Missouri with my mom and sisters. It was very difficult to leave my childhood friends, especially Jamie. We had grown up together and shared so many dreams for the future. My last night in Tulsa, I spent the night with Jamie. We vowed to remain friends.

Jamie A Story About Friendship The only photo I could find of Jamie during our childhood. This slightly out of focus pic shows Randy and Jamie, seated on the porch, with me kneeling in front. We found a baby squirrel on the ground, built a cage and took turns caring for it until it could take care of itself.

I did see Jamie several times during our teen years, when I returned to Tulsa during the summer months to visit my dad. We made the most of those infrequent chats, catching up on our journeys. The thing I remember most about Jamie during those years was that she was in a hurry to grow up. She was eager to be an adult and get on with her life, which at that time meant finding the right young man, getting married and having a family of her own. Being teenaged girls, we talked about boys a lot!

I only saw Jamie once as an adult. She did indeed marry young, as had I. We met, Jamie and I, along with our siblings and our young children, excited to see each other and meet each other’s kids. My mom joined our happy gathering. Sadly, Jamie’s mother had passed away. Later we found each other on Facebook, and kept in touch that way. Life had not gone exactly as Jamie had envisioned as a young girl. No one’s life does. However, Jamie had become a beautiful woman, with that mischievous gleam still lighting up her eyes. And then…she left Facebook and I lost track of her.

Jamie A Friendship Story From Jamie’s Facebook page.

Jamie and I had one other thing in common. Our fathers both died from pancreatic cancer, just two days apart. Unbelievably, they were in the same hospital before their deaths. I ran into Carrie in the elevator. It was a bittersweet reunion. My sisters and I got to visit with Jim and Carrie briefly. Two weeks later, both my dad and Jim were gone from our lives.

As I wrote about Jamie, so many fond memories rose to the surface. I recalled happy years as best friends. And I felt regret that we had lost touch. I knew that, tragically, Jamie was now fighting her own battle with pancreatic cancer.

Here is where my story takes an interesting turn, as so many of my stories do. As I thought about Jamie, and continued to write, a loud popping noise began in my room. It seemed to move about the room, hovering near the ceiling. Pop. Pop, pop, pop. No windows were open. The ceiling fan and overhead light were turned off. I could turn my head and follow the sound of the pops, which occurred every couple of minutes.

I knew what this sound meant. When departed ones visit me in spirit, I often hear these popping noises. What I’m sharing may be difficult to believe, but I’ve experienced such things all my life. When it is a family member visiting, I know exactly who it is. When it is a stranger, or someone I haven’t been around in a while, I don’t immediately know, but I always receive additional information, in a variety of ways. I asked aloud, Who is here? Pop. Pop. The sounds were right above me. I should have known who it was right away. I continued writing.

The next day, Jamie’s sister sent a message. Jamie had passed away. The last month had been difficult for my friend. She was at peace, now, and free from pain.

I’ve thought of Jamie for the last eight days, allowing memories and past conversations and regrets to surface. We were such dear friends as children. I wish we had stayed in touch better. I discovered after her death that Jamie had returned to Facebook about three years ago. I could have had those years to communicate and perhaps set up a time to get together.

I’ve worked this week on releasing those regrets. Jamie was my first best girlfriend. She holds a special place in my heart and in my journey. I am grateful for her friendship and for her life. I’ll see her again someday. And she can visit me any time she wants, announcing her arrival with those pops. I can learn to recognize her instantly when she does. How I do that is a story for another time.

You don’t forget your childhood friends. You remember always the neighborhood kids you ran with, played with and grew up with. Jamie, my friend, you will not be forgotten.

Jamie A Story About Friendship

The Disappearing Coins

Today is National Storytelling Day. I love a good story, which can be told in so many ways. Traditionally, books, poems, films and plays were the favored storytelling format. However, stories can be told, beautifully, through songs and music, art of all kinds, a vignette, a starry night, or a soulful look from across a room. 

My favorite stories are those that are true, events based on real people experiencing real life. I also appreciate a great story that although fiction, has deep truths evident in the telling of it. For me this includes epics such as The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. While both stories fall in the fantasy realm, they contain elements of truth so profound that they resonate strongly with the reader or movie watcher. 

To celebrate National Storytelling Day, I’m sharing two short stories that are linked together by a common theme…coins. They are my stories, and they are absolutely true, however both are imbued with mystery and magic. 

Are you comfortable? Good. I’ll begin…

Years ago, when my children were school aged, I worked one afternoon a week at a church, in a homeschooling group. On this afternoon, I was walking down a hallway to the kitchen, with the intention of buying a diet soda from the vending machine. Halfway to the kitchen, I spied a coin lying on the carpet. Picking it up to inspect it, I found the coin to be a quarter, painted on one side with enamel paint or nail polish. Marked thus the quarter was distinct, and memorable. However, I decided to plug it into the soda machine, replacing one of my own quarters. I kept the painted quarter in my hand, closing my fingers around it. 

However, in the kitchen, when I opened my hand to spend the quarter, it was gone. I had taken approximately 12 steps from the time I found the quarter until I stood before the Pepsi machine, but the coin was no longer in my hand. I shrugged. I must have dropped it. After purchasing a soda, with my own two quarters, I returned to my office slowly, scanning the hallway for the missing coin. I didn’t find it, and promptly forgot about it. 

One week later, I was back at the same church, sitting at the desk in my office. I was wearing different clothes than I had the previous week…a dress, with the obligatory pantyhose, and low heels. As I worked I became aware of an itching sensation on the back of my left calf. I reached down, distractedly, to scratch my lower leg, and was surprised to feel a bump on my leg. It wasn’t an insect bite. The bump was circular and felt cold…metallic. 

Very aware now, I raised the hem of my dress and twisting my leg, peered at the back of my calf. There was something stuck to my leg, beneath the fabric of the pantyhose. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In the ladies restroom I removed the hose to better see what was stuck to my leg. It was a quarter, firmly adhered to the skin of my calf. My skin prickled in goosebumps. Peeling the quarter off my leg, I turned it over. The back was painted in a distinctive way. 

It was the quarter I had found last week, that disappeared out of my hand. I have never been able to explain how it reappeared a week later, stuck onto the back of my leg. 

I’ve often marveled at that story. It is beyond bizarre. It is magical. Recently, I had another mysterious experience with a coin.  

Cleaning in the house of Greg’s dad, after he passed away, I found an old wheat-back penny under a bed. Turning the coin over I saw that it was stamped with the year 1958, my birth year. How cool, I thought. I placed the penny in my billfold, within a clear plastic sleeve, a keepsake to treasure. Because it had my birth year on it, the penny seemed like a personal gift from Greg’s dad. 

I’ve carried the penny in my billfold since that day. I see it everytime I open my wallet. A couple of months ago, I was transferring laundry from the washer to the dryer. I always do a final check in the washer after emptying it, to make sure I don’t miss a sock. No socks remained behind, but I saw something small and dark in the bottom of the washer. 

Retrieving the item, I saw it was a coin…a wheat-back penny. I was amazed. How strange to find another old penny. I moved into the kitchen, near the window, so I could see it better. And I knew. Before I even turned it over, I knew what year was going to be stamped on the face of the penny. 


I stared at the penny, my scalp tingling. No way. No way was this MY penny from my billfold. How could it be? 

I retrieved my wallet and slowly opened it. Again, I knew. Before I looked in the plastic sleeve, I knew. But I checked anyway. The penny wasn’t there…it was gone. Or rather, I was now holding it in my hand, fresh from the washer. I returned the coin to the sleeve in my billfold. 

I can’t explain either of those experiences with coins that appeared…disappeared…and reappeared. And that’s the whole point of these stories…I don’t have to understand. I don’t have to figure out why magical experiences and items show up in my life. I just have to accept that they do…and believe..that life is big and mysterious and full of unexplainable enchantment. Such a belief expands my heart, mind and soul. And lest I forget, and let my world grow too small, there are disappearing coins to remind me. 

I do believe.