A Miracle in an Old Coffee Can

Mom knew I was in an abusive marriage long before I did. Her advice helped me escape.

Posted in , Sep 27, 2016

A Miracle in an Old Coffee Can

Where was I going to live? How could I afford to start over at my age? I drove to my friend’s place, still shaking with fear. Mark, my husband of 25 years, had thrown me out of the house in a rage. I only had time to grab a few belongings before I ran out the door. I glanced at my bag. I didn’t have enough to make it on my own. Not nearly enough. Then I remembered.

Mom’s coffee can. I had to go back for it.

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Mark and I had been happy, once. But he changed. He’d disappear for days with no explanation. When he was home, he’d explode at me. The worst was tonight. I told him I was thinking about taking a leave of absence from my nursing job. I’d been having health issues of my own. “You don’t want to work? Then get out!” he shouted. “I’m keeping the house.” I was afraid of what he’d do if I stayed.

Had Mom seen this coming? Five years earlier, she visited after I’d ended up in the emergency room with food poisoning. She noticed Mark was nowhere to be found. “Get a coffee can,” Mom told me. “Hide your money. Bury it in the backyard.”

She just had this feeling, she said. Mom’s funny feelings tended to be right. I found an old coffee can—one of those extra-wide Blue Plate ones from the 1940’s—and buried it under a bush in the backyard. Mark controlled most of our finances, but I worked as a stylist on the side. Every week, I added that money to the can. 

The weekend after Mark kicked me out, I parked a little distance from the house and snuck into the backyard. Quietly, I dug up the can. Thank you Mom, I thought. I just hope it’s enough.

A few days later, I found the place to start anew—a historic log cabin. With some fixing up, it could be the stuff of my dreams. The seller wasn’t asking much, but the buyer would have to produce cash for the down payment.

It cost exactly what I’d squirreled away in Mom’s coffee can. Down to the dollar.

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