Thirty Cents Revisited

8 02 2015

This is one of the first stories I published when I began “Traveling on the Rock Road.” It’s a story told to me by one of tAunt Pearl and Johnnyhe greatest influences on my life, my Great Aunt Pearl. I’ve been asked several times to repost this narrative, so here on the anniversary of Pearl’s promotion into Heaven 31 years ago, I bring once again (with some reediting) the story I simply call “30 cents revisited.”

I do hope you enjoy it, and thanks for reading.

One of the greatest influences on my life was my Great Aunt Pearl. During my 60 years I have had opportunity to meet many individuals who made their mark in fields such as politics, entertainment, business and industry, education, theology, science, writing, culture and so forth. Many made vast contributions to society and several I have emulated a number of the ideologies and positions that I hold today. Of this collection of teachers and mentors, the Grand Lady from West Virginia, my Aunt Pearl still stands head and shoulders above the rest, not by what she achieved scholastically, but according to what she poured into this man’s life by her example and the wonderful stories she told of life lessons she learned, many I continue to remember and learn from. I believe of all the tales she related, the most impressionable was one that I titled simply “30 Cents.” During the Depression years of America a vast amount of the population found themselves in an impoverished state with the grand people of the Appalachian region hit extremely hard by the decline in coal mining, the major source of revenue for many. My Aunt Pearl and her husband, the man we called Price were newlyweds who found themselves without regular income and had to rely on any means possible to survive. Anyone who knew Pearl also knew of her ability for self-sufficiency and determination. One of the main ways she put food on the table was to raise a garden. I have always believed that the adage of the person with the green thumb was a portrait of my beloved Pearl. She always grew the most beautiful gardens back in Ohio that were larger and most fruitful of anyone around us. And back in the late ‘30’s, living in West Virginia; Pearl seemed to have the same knack knowing that when canning season came, she would be able to put up enough food to last them into the next growing season. Pearl told me that it was around this time period she had grown the best garden she had ever put out and was very delighted with all the food she would put up. One major problem stood in the way of reaping the fruits of this harvest, which was the preservative needed to go into the jars to ensure that the food would not spoil after it had been canned. Pearl knew exactly how much she would need and how much it was going to cost, which seemed like a fortune to her at that time—30 cents. Because she could not find work and Price, due to illness was not able to work, money was something they seldom had. When relating this story to me I remember how she paused for a moment, then with determination in her voice she emphasized how she knew that the only answer to her dilemma would come from earnest prayer to God. So she had cried out saying, “Lord, I know you didn’t give me all this, just to have it go to rot. Please send me 30 cents.” When she finished her prayer, she began remembering a few places where there might be a little change. So the search began—in old pocketbooks, coats, trousers, behind furniture, down in the sofa cushions, every crack and crevice that was in the house. This undertaking took up an entire morning, but when the pursuit was over, and she sat down to count the pile of pennies she had gathered, there were exactly 30. You might have thought that she would have got up and made a run to the store right then to purchase that precious preservative she needed so badly, but she could not move. Pearly Mae told me how she sat there for the longest time crying and giving praise to her Lord and Savior for how richly He had blessed her.

Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Through my childhood years, I came to know this story very well as Pearl would relate it to me on numerous occasions, not with the purpose of telling how hard she had it, but for a two part lesson in life. First, never take anything that you have for granted, not even something as little as a penny. The second and most important point she drove home was to never forget how much God loved us and if we put our trust in Him, He would never fail. She used the example from the Bible of the 30 pieces of silver that after Judas received became completely worthless once he realized that it represented betrayal and a complete separation from the One who loved him most.

God blessed my Pearly Mae by giving her 30 pennies and she was always thankful to Him because of it. Over the course of her life as a “Traveler of the Rock Road” God continued to bless her, and she in turned blessed many others; but those stories are for another time.

If you ever have the privilege of visiting my beautiful birth home of Southern West Virginia, there’s a cemetery located on a hillside there in the town of Princeton. Half way up the hill is a grave site with the marker “Pearl Mae Price”. If you sit there for a moment you can look out at the beautiful mountains this saintly woman cherished so deeply. And if you happen to be a treasure hunter and have a pen knife, dig one inch from the bottom right hand corner of the gravestone and you will find 30 cents I placed there many years ago. (Do me a favor though and put them back after you find them.) I try to dig them up and hold them whenever I visit. Holding these coins in my hand is a reminder not only of how much God blessed Pearl’s life, but how very much she blessed mine and all with whom she came in contact.

She truly possessed a wealth that far exceeds anything many in this world could understand as riches.

“I do not come to God that He may give me all that I want, but I come to Him that He may give me all that I need.” Author Unknown

As each of you continues your own “Travels on the Rock Road,” may your riches in life go far beyond what worldly treasures can offer.

See ya next time!!


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