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50 State Commemorative Quarters

My mother called a little while ago and told me that she’d found the last quarter in the 50 State Commemorative Quarters series. After talking to her, I took the quarters that she’d sent down to me at Christmas and added them to the little album that I bought for Mama when we started this collection. It was strange how emotional I became while adding those quarter. No, I didn’t have tears running down my cheeks or anything. But it felt more significant that just adding some quarters to a collection. Enough so that I wanted to takeĀ  a moment and think about it.
I started driving a truck in 1999. Oddly enough, that’s when they started issuing those commemorative quarters. It wasn’t long before I was bringing the quarters back from the road to give to Mama, and I bought her an album to put them in. It was a minor thing, but it was something we both looked forward to, adding the next quarter to the collection. It was also something we talked about, like which states I’d been to, etcetera. I brought back quarters for Mama until I stopped driving in 2007. From there, she sort of took over.
Although I gave the Quarter album to Mama, when I moved to Florida last year she insisted that I take the Quarter album with me. I didn’t understand it at the time. I’d given her that album and I wanted her to keep it. It offended me a little that she didn’t want it. But she seemed to think it was important me to take it with me. I didn’t understand that until today, when I started adding those quarters that she sent down here at Christmas.
I guess the thing that kept going through my mind was how linked to my driving days these quarters are. Most of them were picked up on the road. With the exception of Alaska and Hawaii, I’ve been to all those states, from 1999 to 2007. So holding the quarters was literally like feeling the weight of my own history in my hands. It also touched me to think about how I started this collection, but Mama wound up being the one who finished it. It’s amazing, isn’t it, that something as apparently insignificant as a collection of quarters could be turned into something that I know I’ll treasure for the rest of my life?
It would have been easy for this collection to have just been put away in a box somewhere and forgotten. But Mama never forgot how much we looked forward to those quarters. When I got them, I looked forward to bringing them back to North Carolina to her. Once I stopped driving, Mama kept looking for those quarters, because she knew I wouldn’t be finding them on the road anymore.
In the end, I guess it shows how much smarter that us our mothers really are. Mama knew this would mean something to me. While I wanted her to have it, it’s not lost on me that this is something that we did together. In the end, on top of everything else this collection of quarters represents, that’s probably the greatest gift of all.
Oddly enough, when Mama sent down the last batch of those state quarters at Christmas, she also sent down a James Monroe $1 commerative coin from the U.S. Mint’s Presidential $1 Coins series. Think she’s trying to get something else started?

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