Today at lunch I offered a bright new Hawaii quarter as change, and I instinctively paused to think whether I should have parted with it instead of turning it over to my husband. And then I remembered.
When our boy was seven and our girl was five, and the U.S. Mint began putting out all those new state quarters, my husband decided that he would collect shiny new quarters with the limited edition design from every state until he had assembled complete sets for each of his children. He bought two of those bi-fold boards with a map of the country and little cut out circles to hold the quarters, and whenever he received change in a store, he would sift through it like a miner panning for gold to see if he had netted a new treasure. I remember when he placed the first quarter in its circle, we remarked that this would be a ten-year project, that our son's collection of new state quarters wouldn't be complete until he was 17 and heading off to college, because the treasury planned to release only five new state quarters each year.
Not once in the ten years that the state quarters were being released did my husband flag in his mission. It never occurred to him that he could just order two complete sets at the end of the cycle for a price. No, what made the collections he was assembling precious was the effort involved, his patience and attention in doing this thing for his children, day after day, year after year.
And now, both collections are pristine and complete because this is who my husband is. He knows how to run a long-distance race. And if it involves his children, you can be sure, he'll never quit.