Change Of Heart, LLoyd Lawton

By: Leo Lawton

A stroke, by definition, is the sudden death of brain cells in a localized area due to inadequate blood flow. My father, born in 1905, was in his upper sixties when, after having heart problems for years, had the misfortune of suffering a stroke. It has been said by those much wiser than me, that there is a silver lining in every cloud. If there was a good part of this incident it was that the resultant damage was not anywhere near as devastating as it could have been. Father was able to continue with life with only a minimum of side effects, but one of them he considered humorous.

On one occasion he pulled a bigger than average amount of change from his right front pocket. He said to me, “Do you have any idea why I carry this?” I, having no idea what he was getting at, answered, “I suppose to pay for items you might care to buy”, or words to that effect. He then said, “Well, yes, you’re right, but” and he went on to say, “I mean why so much?”Again, I had no idea, and said as much. Father then explained that since he had his stroke he could inexplicably not count change any more.

Paper money was no different than it had always been, but change was a horse of a different color. He went on to tell me that for instance an item might come to a total of $49.67. He could open his wallet as he always had and count out two twenties, a five and four ones with no hesitation, but the change he had no idea how or what to give. He then would reach in his front pocket and remove a handful of change, and tell the bewildered store clerk to take whatever he/she might want.

He told me that rarely did they do it without hesitation, and this he found humorous. He guessed that most clerks thought it to be some sort of joke, or scam. Finally, at my father’s insistence, they would hesitantly remove a quarter from his hand and lay it on the counter. Then they would ever so carefully remove a second quarter and lay it along side the first one, after stating they were taking a second quarter. Then it was continued with the dime, nickel, and pennies until the required amount lay on the counter. Only then would the clerk pick up the change and place it in the register with the paper money.

My father told me the humorous part was that they could have taken every one of the coins one at a time and placed them on the counter, and he would not have suspicioned it was not the correct thing to do, but he was assured in his own mind that he had never been cheated in any manner.