Sauna Club Stranger

Today at the Sauna Club there was an old woman I had never met before sitting in my usual spot. Sometimes this happens. New people don’t know who sits where or which locker is Trudy’s.  Trudy is 96 years old and you just don’t use Trudy’s locker. We give people time to adjust. That is how it is.

I took Franks seat knowing he would not be in that early on a Tuesday, and began to talk with the newcomer.

This old woman was born for the Sauna Club; she was open and Wise and very sweet.

She told me she found a penny in the sauna when she arrived, “Isn’t that odd?” she said.

She handed the penny to me, “Here you go Sweetheart, I am feeling lucky today and I think that you need this.” It was a beautiful new penny, practically un-circulated.

I tried to give the penny back, but she would not take it.

“You need this honey, you do.”

She left the sauna before I did and was not in the locker room when I was done.

She was gone.

I left the Y feeling odd and confused. I got in my car and sat in the parking lot for a long while.

I began collecting pennies when I was in fifth grade. My father bought a gas station after he left Texaco. Every night I would sort through the nightly deposit bag and look for old pennies.

I was drawn to pennies because of love. I was in love with Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was my first love. I admired his life and his writing. I wanted to be a lawyer one day, just like him.

When I began to collect the pennies I kept them in bowls and jars in our bedroom.

One day my mother came home with blue cardboard books that real coin collectors used to keep track of their coins. My mother left them on my bed without saying a word.

I thought of the woman in the Sauna Club today; a woman I have never seen before and might not ever see again. I thought, “What are the odds of finding a penny in the sauna?”  Pretty slim, Mighty darn slim.

The woman said to me, “You need this honey, you do.”

She was right. That one act of Sauna Club generosity sparked a memory long forgotten of my mothers generosity.

My mother was paying attention sometimes.

Sometimes she was.

I need to honor that; to recognize that my mother was not capable of loving me in the way I needed to be loved but she did have her moments. I have my blue books out now as I write this. I still collect pennies and I am still in love with Abraham Lincoln. I worked in politics too long to want to be a lawyer any longer, but now I realize what I admired about Lincoln was his ability to create positive change in his world.

I can do that now. I can Pass If Forward and I will tomorrow, first thing.

The Sauna Club Stranger’s kindness will live on tomorrow morning while I wait in line to renew my driver’s license.

I will dedicate my acts of kindness tomorrow to my mother and to Sauna Club Strangers.

Yes I will.

PS:  I am wandering my way back to the story of my mothers alcoholics dementia. I am realizing that to understand  why it is hard to forgive my mother and explain clearly how destructive her alcoholism is, I need to give some background. I am becoming aware that not everyone grew up with eccentric alcoholics. This story is not as clear-cut as I originally thought.  I just wanted you to know; I am getting there. It is just a meandering path…   Peace,   Jen



~ by Step On a Crack on October 11, 2011.

17 Responses to “Sauna Club Stranger”

  1. I’m glad you’ve been able to find this memory of your mother giving you something useful.


  2. I figure this was a gift. All memories of my mother are useful; even the hard ones. Sometimes the hard ones help me see why it is I am who I am. I will also write soon about why she became who she was. It all adds up I figure. some is pretty and some is not; but it is all part and parcel of who we are as humans. My mother has an amazing empathy for animals. That is a gift born of her sadness. I have great empathy for people; that is born of my sadness. I think if I choose to see it all as Gift, I am able to find use for it. Thank you very much for being here and taking the time. I tell you, the support on this BLOG thingy is really healing. Peace, Jen


  3. Sometimes the Universe works, like this ghost from the past giving you lucky pennies in the sauna. When the Universe doesn’t work, we just need the serenity to sit back and wait for *ourselves* to get back on track, because the Universe was working well all along.

    As for the meandering, perhaps you need to explore the fringes of the story as well before delving deep down into it and that’s great because the view from here is awesome and we have all the time in the world.


    • Dear Mr. Hall, first, congrats again!

      I wonder if this woman even existed? An angel maybe? OR maybe this happens all the time and I just don’t notice.

      delving deep seems to be on the agenda, not mine per se, maybe Higher Power. Let that guy drive and all hell breaks loose! Thank God for that, ehh?

      You are a wonderful friend to be hanging here in darkness with me. See the light switch anywhere?


  4. Love, this is wonderful!!! This, too, i get!!! There were moments … YES … brilliantly written. I think your story is RIGHT ON with the FIERCE and complex battle that is: MOTHER/DAUGHTER (course, mixed in with a lot of booze) …
    There are moments …
    And, i love Abe … and you reminded me of that with your “signature” emails initially. I watched a PBS special on his life … he was EVEN more interesting than we could ever imagine. SMART … with lots of blisters. UNHEARD OF in this political world (mess) today.
    I love you, my survivor momma! melis


  5. Where is the love button! I love love love!


  6. Yes, Jen, you are getting there. What a sweet story and I’m glad it’s helping you on your meandering journey. What’s a journey unless it’s on the scenic path?


  7. Jennifer, I really liked this one. I love the mystery woman in the sauna and the penny gift. I know Alan will have comments on this one because he collects pennies as well – especially the wheat backs.


    • sue thank you! Alan and I can have a Sauna Club Penny meeting! I LOVE wheat pennies. My son buys them from a coin collector for me now as gifts. You just don’t randomly find them anymore…. take care and Peace to you my friend! J


  8. Any help in finding forgiveness is a gift! Love that it has been sparked by a small item the world gives no real value: a simple penny. Sabina


  9. I love the old woman in the sauna – could have been me – If there’s a designated spot out of 25 empty’s, I find it. 😀
    I also fell in love with Abraham Lincoln when I was little enough to still really value pennies. I memorized the Gettysburg address when I was about 6 or 7 and cried when I found out he wasn’t still alive.
    Over the years, I’ve continued to love Lincoln, but have become more careless with pennies. I’m rethinking that tonight.
    Thank you, Jen, for another beautiful post. I’m interested in every path of the journey and am in no rush to get anywhere.


    • Debbie, another small world connection! Amazing Grace YOU are to me… Thank you for the ok to go slow ness. This is just NOT as esay as I thought. You guys keep me honest. What IS the darn story anyway? The story IS the journey. Peace, Jen


  10. I am gad you’ve recovered your memory about the blue books. This is a beautiful post. I had to laugh at the odds of finding a penny in the sauna. Perhaps she was an angel?

    I don’t need as many answers as I used to. I just need to be reminded of His love. You did that for me today


  11. I LOVED reading this post Jen, I have had similar experiences through my fathers death. She was definitely an angel.

    BTW, you meandering path is an enlightening one & I am pleased you are allowing us to follow. 🙂


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