Several years ago (2002 to be exact) I had what I refer to as “The Cancer Scare – Act 1 and 2.” Act 1 occurred during a routine doctor’s appointment; Deb was performing a breast exam and said the words that can strike terror into the hearts of women everywhere. “I found a lump” is not something you ever want to hear, unless someone is talking about panning for gold. An appointment was made for a mammogram. Two days later, the results of my PAP smear came back – abnormal cells had been found that could be precancerous.

My mother had cancer of the uterus when she was pregnant with my sister. Shortly after Kari was born, Mom had a hysterectomy. When I was in high school, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a lumpectomy. So, as you can imagine, I was a little freaked out when I was faced with the possibility of Double Cancer (since Vegas, anytime I use the word Double I say it my head as Dooblee. This will not make sense to you unless you are Beth. To the rest of you, I’ll explain some other time). To add to the stress, I was also sent to the hospital to be diagnosed for some disease that causes your esophagus to stiffen and then you stop swallowing or breathing or something like that (I have a tendency to choke on my own saliva, let alone other food. Like the little broccoli things on heads of raw broccoli).

On the day of the mammogram and the test for the choking thing, I am sitting in the waiting room. Now, I have a tendency to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. So, while I am waiting, my positive side is thinking “Yes, you could have cancer BUT they’ve made great progress and it is going to be okay” while my other half, the depressed side, is thinking “You’re going to die. Oh MY God. This is horrible!” Needless to say, since I’ve been taking Effexor, my negative/depressed side usually keeps her mouth shut. Which is a good thing.

Anyway, to take my mind off of the waiting and the nerves and the nerve wracking waiting, I start paging through a magazine. It may have been a Reader’s Digest but I’m not positive. Anyway, the article that caught my attention was about three women who lost their mother or father and had been having a hard time dealing with the loss. One of the women was listening to the radio one day and heard the song “Pennies From Heaven” and reminded the others how their parent had enjoyed that song. The next day, in different parking lots, all three of them looked down and found bright, shiny pennies lying on the ground. And every time one of them got depressed over missing their parent or was going through a rough time, they would find a penny.

When I read this, I thought “It sure would be nice if I could get a sign that things would be okay.” My mind immediately flashed to my grandmother. When I was in a car accident about ten years ago and rushed to the hospital, I had been asked if there was a family member I wanted them to call. I said “Yes, my grandmother” and rattled off her phone number. The nurse headed towards the phone when I said “But she won’t answer.” Why not? “She’s dead.” That’s when they decided I was probably in shock. It is my grandmother who I want when I am hurt or scared.

In the waiting room, I got this intense feeling that Grandma was there with me and I looked down. There was a penny on the floor in front of me. I told myself it was just a coincidence and then, two seconds later, a car commercial started playing on the television. The song playing in the background was “Pennies From Heaven.” The commercial featured a car being driven through a rain storm, if you will, of pennies.

I felt so relieved and so loved at that moment that all that came after that (the indignity of swallowing chocolate flavored chalk and having to hold completely still while crammed into this small tube like thing AND the taking my breast and dragging it across the room only to try and flatten it completely) went by without anymore worry. I was going to be okay.

Thursday night, Beth and I were sitting in my parking ramp, talking about the night and we got on the subject of her grandfather and her mother. While we were talking about that, I flashed back to sitting in the waiting room and the commercial. After we said goodbye, I was headed inside and thought “I wish I knew that Laurie (Beth’s mom) was going to be okay (I hope her grandfather will be okay as well, of course, but I think of Laurie as sort of a surrogate mother).” When I walked inside the building, the song play was “Pennies From Heaven.” That feeling of love and relief washed over me again.

I miss my grandmother a lot but it is nice to know that she’s there, watching over me and the people I care about.

Pennies From Heaven – Frank Sinatra

Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven
Don’t you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven?
You’ll find your fortune’s fallin’ all over the town
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love, you must have showers
So, when you hear it thunder, don’t run under a tree
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me

Every time, every time it rains, it’s gonna rain pennies from heaven
Don’t you know every cloud contains lots of pennies from heaven
You’ll find your fortune’s fallin’, baby, all over the town
Be sure, be sure that your umbrella is upside down

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love, you’ve got to have showers
So, when you hear it thunder, don’t run under a tree
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me

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