Joan lived a very simple life with little money. Quality of life was always more important to her than quantity. She drove an old car and shopped for clothing at the local thrift store. This way of life served her well until the day came when she needed my help. Head in hands, she arrived at my door distraught by her recent diagnosis and ashamed that she had no way to pay for my services. With no savings and very little discretionary income, Joan and I negotiated a reasonable fee of $10.00 an hour.
We met once a week for the years remaining of Joan’s life. One day, Joan arrived with a large, rusty Folgers coffee can tucked neatly under her left arm. Even though she was soon to leave this world, on this particular day, Joan was radiant. She had something to tell me, something to share.
Handing me the coffee can, Joan explained that this old can had been rolling around in the trunk of her car since that crisp, October day when we first began our journey together. Poignantly, she recalled making a weekly ritual out of opening the plastic lid and dropping in a little cash after each of our sessions. Over the years, Joan held on to the growing savings in case she ever needed it. And now, alas, it was time to let it go. I wept with her graciousness. We cried together at this subtle but clear indication that our time together was drawing to a close.
Much later, upon opening the can, I found hundreds of rolled-up bills laced ever-so-slightly with the faint smell of Folgers
“Every time I reached into that can, for some cash for the paper girl, money for groceries, I smelled the coffee. I woke up each and every time to the gift that Joan left with me; an appreciation for each moment of my life.