90: Money from Heaven

90: Money from Heaven

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Money from Heaven

Angels are never too distant to hear you.

~Author Unknown

It is possible to grieve for someone you’ve never known. My maternal grandmother, Eva, died when she was only fifty-two. I was given her name as my middle name when I was born more than a year later. I heard many stories about Eva, and felt a strong connection with her. She was a central figure in the rural community where she was born and lived. She was the hard working farm wife, postmaster, store manager, schoolteacher and mother. During the hard times of the Great Depression, when her family was struggling to keep their farm, she still managed to feed the passing hobos, looked the other way when drifters lifted food from the store, and found work for the occasional itinerant. She was also renowned as a strong defender of proper grammar and an advocate for higher education. I was sad that I’d never had the chance to know her. I did, however, have a very special communication with her.

It was August 1978 and I was in graduate school in Hawaii, over 2,400 miles from my family in California. It was the summer between my first and second year of school and I was surviving on a student loan and odd jobs. Early that month, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in the Ira Progoff Intensive Journal Method based on Jungian psychology. The journal had several tabbed sections including one titled, “Dialoguing with People.” The workshop leader picked that section to demonstrate, and asked the participants to create a list of people with whom they would like to have a conversation. The list could contain historical figures, fictional characters, celebrities etc. We were then asked to select one person from that list and have a written “dialogue” with him or her. From my list of about twenty people, I selected my grandmother Eva. I told her about the stories I’d heard about her and how I genuinely missed knowing her. In my imagined dialogue, she “responded” that she was with me and aware of my life, my interests and my challenges. This was a powerful experience, as during the process of writing, it did feel very much like a real and intimate moment with my grandmother.

The following day, I was in the student loan office and learned that my next check wouldn’t come for another month. Having only a few dollars left, I panicked and wondered how I would manage until then. Although there were friends who would feed me, and family who would lend me money if I asked, I was twenty-five and very proud of my independence. I was walking home wondering what to do. I actually looked up at the sky and said aloud, “I wish it would rain money!” Then, very unexpectedly, I physically experienced a profound sense of calm certainty. Some people might refer to it as faith. Still looking at the sky, I extended my arms, relaxed and said with absolute knowledge, “I don’t know where it will come from, or in what form, but I know my needs will be met.”

A few days later, I received a letter from my mother’s sister, my Aunt Mary who lives in Oregon. I hadn’t been corresponding with her regularly and was somewhat puzzled as to why she was writing, seemingly out of the blue. As I walked from the mailbox, I opened the envelope and a check for $50 dropped out along with a brief note. It read:

“A very strange thing happened to me today—I was talking with your mother on the phone and as usual we were talking about our kids. After we hung up, I was still thinking about you. Then as clear as if she were standing right next to me, I heard my mother say, ‘Well, why don’t you send her some money?’ So here is a small check. Don’t thank me; it’s from your grandmother.”

My mouth dropped open, I stopped in my tracks and I literally shook. I immediately wrote back to my aunt telling her about the journal workshop, my “conversation” with her mother, my temporary financial anxiety and my absolute knowledge that somehow I would be okay; though I never expected it to be through help from my grandmother who had died thirty years earlier!

Many years later, I spoke again with Aunt Mary at a family reunion about this connection with her mother. She added a last bit of information I hadn’t known. She told me that her mother was “always scraping together money for people she knew who wanted to go to college.” Mary added that when her mother told her to send me some money, she had replied, “Okay. I’ll send her $25.” Mary said her mother remonstrated, “Don’t be so stingy! I would have sent her $50!”

~Joan Eva Engelbart

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