It was the early sixties, and like many ten year olds, I had a collection. I remember the collections of some of my friends which included anything from a big ball made of chewing gum foil wrappers to the typical horde of marbles or rocks. One of my friends collected plastic horses, which didn’t interest me in the least. I saw little use in something that posed in one position and collected dust. On the other hand, I was very proud and protective of my collection. In my mind it was truly valuable. I collected silver dollars.
Due to its extreme worth, I rarely mentioned my collection to anyone. I kept it safe in a small box about the size a person would store jewelry. Inside the box there was a piece of cotton that hugged the base and kept my treasures in place. I only owned eight silver dollars, but that was a fortune for a girl of ten, especially in those days.
When I was alone in my room, I enjoyed taking the box from the middle drawer of my bookshelf, carefully removing each silver dollar. I loved the coolness of the coins as I turned them over in my hand. Arranging them in a line on my bedspread, I would examine the dates and note differences, depending on the year they were minted. Being especially proud of the oldest coins, I vowed I would never spend them.
The day finally came when I decided to share the secret of my valued collection with a trusted friend. It was early spring and I had invited Karen over to roller skate. Unfortunately, the sunny skies turned to rain and we were forced inside. As we sat bored in my bedroom, I suddenly knew how to save the day. I would bring out my collection and show Karen. As I removed the small box from the back of my drawer, I stressed the importance of never revealing what I was about to share. I was almost breathless as I proudly removed each silver dollar. We enjoyed inspecting the coins, arranging them in order from oldest to most current. Karen noticed that the oldest coin was dated 1921. I was impressed that she was as enthralled as I was over this grandiose collection.
When it was time for Karen to go home, she carefully helped me put each coin in the box and I replaced the lid. As I lifted the heavy contents into the drawer, I lost my grip and dropped the box, scattering the entire collection in every direction. My hardwood bedroom floor was the worst landing spot for silver dollars and I watched in horror as several rolled out of sight. With both of us working together, we were able to retrieve seven of the coins, but the eighth coin could not be found. I was heartbroken. To add to my dismay, I discovered that the missing coin was my oldest, dated 1921. How could I have been so clumsy and careless?
After Karen left, I grabbed a flashlight and continued to search. I turned over clothes, looked under furniture, and removed everything in my closet. Searching in vain, I began to suspect that Karen may have found my rarest treasure and decided to keep it. Once the thought entered my mind, I couldn’t dismiss it.
At school on Monday, Karen asked again about the missing coin. I told her I hadn’t found it yet and she seemed genuinely concerned. I decided to let it go and our friendship continued, although I was more distant and our time together less frequent.
By May I had lost all hope of finding my silver dollar. Two months had passed and the school year was nearing an end. The incident was almost forgotten with the coming of summer vacation and my birthday. I was planning a party and had invited my closest friends, including Karen. As we sat around opening presents, I smiled as Karen handed me a small, wrapped box. I could tell she was really excited about her choice of gifts and couldn’t wait to see my reaction. As I lifted the lid of the tiny box, my eyes slowly focused on a silver dollar, dated 1921. I choked out a polite “Thank you” as my heart sank. My suspicions had been confirmed. At least I got my precious silver dollar back.
I’m sure Karen wondered why I stopped inviting her over. She had let me down and I didn’t feel the same about our friendship. I remained silent about my feelings not knowing how to approach her and talk about it.
It was the middle of July when I decided to change my bedroom furniture around. I enjoyed reorganizing my room and it was the perfect task for a boring summer day. Since I didn’t have carpet, it was easy to scoot the bed across the floor and as I did so I heard a familiar clinking sound. I got down on my hands and knees and peered beneath the bed skirt. Among the dust, I saw what looked like a large, silver coin. As I reached for it and held it in the light I could see the date–1921. It was my missing silver dollar. Apparently, on that fateful spring day it had bounced some crazy way and lodged in one of the bed boards. Moving my bed was all it needed to be jarred loose and fall to the hard floor, announcing its presence.
The joy of finding the lost coin was overshadowed with guilt. I had unjustly accused Karen of stealing my silver dollar and then giving it back as a gift. In reality, she had searched and found a replacement, knowing how much the coin meant to me. She was a genuine, true friend and I had doubted her integrity and discarded our friendship. In the meantime, she had moved on.
I have never forgotten the grief I felt that day. I not only misjudged someone’s character, but I lost the association of a cherished friend. I didn’t know how to repair things with Karen, but I haven’t forgotten the impact of one silver dollar. Sometimes I fail in my resolve not to judge, only to have a flashback of the day I found my missing coin.