The secret stash


A few years back, I discovered the hobby of coin collecting after going through some stuff my dad left to me shortly after his death.

My dad had what he called a death box that was only to be opened by me whenever I was ready after he had passed. For as morbid as it sounds, my dad’s death box, a large wooden box secured by a padlock that now sits in my living room, was filled with happy memories he had collected over the years and something I guess he knew I would one day grow to enjoy.

As you may have guessed by now, after I sorted through the various pictures, cards and memories the old man had collected over the years, I found the coins at the bottom of the box.

For whatever reason, the coins at the bottom of the box were the only thing I made a connection to. To my knowledge, my dad was not what I call a coin collector, but he obviously was a collector of memories and if these coins were worthy of the death box, they had to have a story to tell.

Over the years, I have learned to appreciate the history and beauty of these old coins and have grown the collection to the point of needing several death boxes to hold them. My wife and family have learned to accept my hobby and even sometimes to use my hobby to keep me calm and jolly when the stress of life gets to be a bit much to handle.

For example, a few weeks ago, I had a very stressful day at work and, out of the blue, my wonderful wife asked, “Would you like a proof set?”

Of course I want a new proof set, I told her, and, out of the blue, she hands me one. A couple of days later, I had another stressful work day and like magic another proof set appeared. A few days after that someone actually had the audacity to actually make me angry, which never happens. I was so angry, as a matter of fact, my wife actually handed me a Ziploc bag full of miscellaneous coins knowing this episode was too severe for a proof set.

While I was lost in the moment of getting new toys every time I had a stressful day, it took me a while to figure out what this was all about. Like the mother who gives her child pacifiers to calm them down, my wife has her own pacifiers, and I am beginning to wonder where she is hiding the secret stash.

Could she be hiding them in the vegetable crisper of the fridge knowing I would never look there? Does she have her very own death box full of pacifiers? Either way, I hope she never runs out silver pacifiers. At this rate, I’m going to need them.

Jimmy Parker lives in Erwin. Contact him at


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