Several times a week, I see Sandy Bowie walking along Main Street, Portland Street and Route 1, listening to music on her headphones, trucking along at a brisk pace I’d describe as power walking. Short, trim, fit and blond, Sandy is about five years older than I am and looks 10 years younger. I’m sure I could never keep up with her.
The other day I asked Sandy how far she walks and she told me she does a three-mile loop every morning and, when time allows, walks the loop in the reverse direction in the afternoon. It’s a routine she started seven years ago, the day after her beloved husband Bud died.
“I just went for a walk to think, to meditate,” Sandy told me. “It was a peaceful time for me.”
Sandy and Bud had been happily married for 40 years when he died suddenly and unexpectedly in a fall at their home. Sandy was devastated. Walking every day helped her cope with the trauma and the loss.
Two years after Bud died, Sandy was cleaning out their garage in preparation for moving to a condominium when she found a penny on the floor. Finding an errant penny would seem like an innocuous, everyday event, yet it struck Sandy with the force of a revelation.
“When I found that penny,” she said, “I felt Bud’s presence. He was telling me, ‘You’re doing the right thing.’”
Sandy has been finding pennies ever since.
“When I am walking, I will look down and there will be a penny or a dime. They just bounce up at me.”
Over the past five years, Sandy has collected a bag full of lost coins and currency, a one-gallon zip-lock bag containing $160 in pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, dollars, and even a couple of $50 bills. She has another bag in Florida not quite so full, containing the pennies she’s found walking near her winter home.
Pennies from heaven? Sandy believes so.
When I went over to her home to see her money bag, Sandy showed me a copy of a book by Squire Rushnell called “Divine Alignment: How Godwink Moments Guide Your Journey.” “Godwink” is a term Rushnell, a TV producer turned author and inspirational speaker, coined in his 2006 bestseller “When God Winks At You: How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence.”
I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic when it comes to things like afterlife and communications from the beyond, but I have friends and family who insist they have received signs from and sensed the presence of departed loved ones. I really don’t know what I think, but Sandy knows what she thinks.
“I just think it’s for real,” she told me. “I really do. It keeps you going, knowing they’re still with you.”
So as she takes her brisk walks around town every day, Sandy stays open to the possibility of receiving another penny from heaven.
“It’s almost like a challenge to me now to see if I can find just one little penny,” Sandy says, “but I really don’t look for them. They just jump out at me.”
So here’s my question: would it be cheating to throw loose change on the side of the road for Sandy to find, or would that be doing the work of the angels? I hope the latter.