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The Silver Dollar Lesson

The Silver Dollar Lesson

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.

bedroom-558987_640It 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.

This Post Has 30 Comments
  1. That story has been such a great reminder and testament to me. I’ve even tried to ponder on the thought that even if the person in question did take the item, perhaps they needed it more than I did. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think that not to “judge” is one of God’s commandments that is easy to forget and to break. I’m glad you never accused her of taking it. That would have made you regret having judged her even harder to forget and forgive.

    1. I did accuse her in my mind. The right thing would have been to talk to her about it and preserve our friendship. Communication is the key.

  3. This would be a perfect story for the Ensign or Friend magazine. It’s so well written and teaches a wonderful lesson.

  4. Wow! That is a great story and reminder of the importance of not being too quick to judge or assume and to communicate! A lot of our problems with others could be eliminated or worked through if we were better at communicating. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. I wish I had talked to Karen about it, but I didn’t have the communication skills at age ten. The best I can do is apply what I’ve learned!

  5. I love your story! Thanks for sharing it with me. I have been guilty of judging people and assuming the worst and then later finding out that my judgment was wrong. I’ve even done this with people I love who are close to me! I will think of your story when my thoughts lead me to do this.

    1. Thanks Lynda! Even with this experience, I have been guilty of jumping to conclusions. When I do, I’m always sorry.

  6. It’s a great story. You definitely should submit it to one of the Church magazines. I wrote a story and they accepted it. It took about 6 years for it to be printed but it finally was. I’d like to do more writing when I retire. Maybe we have more in common than May birthdays, teaching and retirement!

  7. Where do I start? …

    I just finished reading your website – all the posts and the history and the home page. I am so proud of you, my friend! Your sincerity and honesty ‘jumps’ off the pages and is just so ‘YOU’.

    I can still remember meeting you that day in January( five years ago) at one of the breast cancer events. We accidentally just ‘hit it off coming’ from one of the worst heath experiences that either one of us had been through – breast cancer! It was so amazing to find someone who had gone through so many similar experiences as I had! I think we immediately liked each other; it has been a wonderful and developing friendship ever since. I truly treasure your friendship! I anxiously await to read your book. I know it will be AWESOME! And full of insight and wisdom from a super cool and amazing woman. You ROCK, girlfriend! Love ya lots!

    1. I treasure your friendship as well! How often do you find someone who really “gets it” AND you love being with? You have been an inspiration to me and I’m always uplifted by our conversations and time together. You are right! We hit it off the day we met and have been there for each other ever since. Thanks for all the positive comments, but most of all for being my friend.

  8. My favorite post so far 🙂 Loved, loved your story and the lesson it teaches. I will be sharing this with my kids too!

  9. You have an amazing gift & I thank you for this beautifully written story. You should definitely submit to be published in a church magazine!!!!

    1. I have thought about sending it to the Ensign. I just need to get around to it! Thank you for your kind words, Jacque!

  10. You shoul definitely submit this story for publication in the Ensign. It is beautifully written with such a great moral to it.

  11. I think stories like that come up often when we are growing up. With me it was a childhood friend and it was over a five dollar bill. Hard lessons.

  12. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I know we have those experiences to enable us to become better people. You, my friend are certainly one of the ‘better’ people because you chose to learn. I hope one day you will find Karen again to really thank her for her beautiful gift.

  13. Claudia,
    What a beautifully expressed example & lesson. You definitely have the gift of a great story teller that keeps one intrigued to the end. You have always been a great example to me of grace & faith & joy…despite what you were going through…(still haven’t had time to read your book but it’s on my list!!)

    1. Thank you, Bonnie. You are an example of courage and faith to all who know you. Thank you for your kind words and support!

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