Small Change: The Secret Life of Penny Burford

| November 4, 2013

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Small Change: The Secret Life of Penny Burford

As a young girl, while helping her minister father distribute Christmas baskets and toys to underpriveleged families, Penny Burford’s life was touched and changed. As a result, in 1965, adult Penny takes a single nickel from her husband, Roy’s, overflowing mound of change on the bedroom dresser. With that single act, she changes the course of her life–and the lives of untold others.

Penny has never kept a secret from her husband, but as her hoard of castaway change grows, she discovers that having her own money gives her the power to make her own decisions. And she finds that small change can eventually lead to big changes.

Thirty-four years later, Roy finds a large check drawn on an account bearing only Penny’s name. He is bewildered, wondering how his wife, who has never worked outside their home, managed to come by so much money. His quest to unravel this mystery leads him to other discoveries about the woman he thought he knew so well. Roy learns just how many lives Penny has touched and just how well his wife has known his own secrets all those years–and her example shows him how to begin life anew.

Small Change is a deceptively simple story that explores the human condition in a rich emotional portrait. A remarkable tale of an ordinary housewife who leaves an extraordinary legacy, it reminds us of the true spirit of charity, the lasting effects of dysfunctional childhood, and the tragic self-silencing that limits the richness of far too many lives.

As a young girl, while helping her minister father distribute Christmas baskets and toys to underpriveleged families, Penny Burford’s life was touched and changed. As a result, in 1965, adult Penny takes a single nickel from her husband, Roy’s, overflowing mound of change on the bedroom dresser. With that single act, she changes the course of her life–and the lives of untold others.

Penny has never kept a secret from her husband, but as her hoard of castaway change grows, she discovers that having her own money gives her the power to make her own decisions. And she finds that small change can eventually lead to big changes.

Thirty-four years later, Roy finds a large check drawn on an account bearing only Penny’s name. He is bewildered, wondering how his wife, who has never worked outside their home, managed to come by so much money. His quest to unravel this mystery leads him to other discoveries about the woman he thought he knew so well. Roy learns just how many lives Penny has touched and just how well his wife has known his own secrets all those years–and her example shows him how to begin life anew.

Small Change is a deceptively simple story that explores the human condition in a rich emotional portrait. A remarkable tale of an ordinary housewife who leaves an extraordinary legacy, it reminds us of the true spirit of charity, the lasting effects of dysfunctional childhood, and the tragic self-silencing that limits the richness of far too many lives.

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