When a mother becomes ill, or needs to work in order to help support the family, oldest sisters sometimes become junior Moms. Donna Ronio of Lawton, Oklahoma took on that role when her mother worked to support her six children. "All my life I have felt like the guardian of the family," Donna says. "The one who fixes things for the people I love." Thus, it was natural that after the family grew up, Donna still felt that way.
In 2001, Donna read several Internet inspirational messages regarding pennies. "They were supposed to be little signs from heaven," she says. "I started becoming more aware of them, even looking for them." On several occasions, especially when she needed some reassurance, Donna came upon a penny lying in a parking lot or on a step. She always picked them up. Somehow they seemed more than good luck charms.
Then Donna’s younger sister Kathy became seriously ill with a painful form of cancer. It slowly depleted her energy until she was finally bedridden and unable to move. "On our last visit I told her that I loved her and would be back the following weekend," Donna says. "But she passed away before that happened."
Donna was consumed with grief, but also with guilt. Wasn’t she the big sister who could fix anything? Had she let her sister down?
The memorial service was beautiful. Afterwards, as everyone came out of the church, Donna stopped to talk to a friend of Kathy’s. "As I turned to walk away, there on the ground just in front of the toe of my shoe, was a bright, shiny, new 2001 penny," Donna says. "The first 2001 penny I had seen, all fresh and shiny." Just like Kathy, she realized. Relief flooded her spirit. Somehow she knew that Kathy was safe and sound with Jesus, and He had sent a message to let Donna know.
"Since that day, I have found more 'angel pennies' but none with the significance of that one, sent to ease my pain," she says. Donna misses Kathy, but she knows that they will be reunited someday.