Chapter Two: Father Mulcahy
The idea for these gifts is one that's been in my head for a while. These notes were even in writing long before I sent them. Remember those horrible moments we each had at least once in Korea when we thought for sure we were going to die? One of those experiences is bad enough, but you and I lived through years where that fear was moment by moment. Well, in one of those moments, I wrote my living will, and what you're reading now was a part of it.
His sister brought in the mail that morning, sorted it out and placed it on the table with their morning newspaper and breakfast. After saying grace, Francis Mulcahy flipped through the small stack. Most of it was unimportant. There was still no word from the diocese about what position might be available for a partially deaf priest.
But the Father's mood was brightened by one personal letter postmarked Maine. He shared a joyful look with his sister and spent a moment simply gazing at the envelope. He sent up a prayer of thanks for such refreshing news.
Holding up the letter, he felt something slide around inside it. Intrigued and more than a little excited, Father Mulcahy tore open the envelope, extracting a folded paper and a single nickel.
Puzzled by this strange offering, he quickly unfolded the letter, scanning it for an explanation. What he found within brought joyous laughter to his lips.
It had been so long since the General incident where he was informed that he wasn't worth so much as a nickel. It had been so long since their MASH family had laid eyes on each other. To have Hawkeye send this now, in a time when he was struggling desperately to remember his worth, was a Godsend. It was a blessing that he was grateful for.
Perhaps his efforts during the war had made a difference. And perhaps he had purpose yet. A deaf priest wasn't outside the realm of God's use, and Hawkeye's thoughtful gift had reminded him of it.
Father Mulcahy turned the five cent piece over and over in his hand, mesmerized by what it represented. The flock that he had so patiently tended these last hard years had not forgotten him. They knew what he'd managed to forget, that he was worth far more than a nickel.
He was going to frame this coin. While it was no good luck charm, it could serve to remind him what he was holding on for. The fight against his disability would be a long, difficult match, but there was value to it.
The Father found himself laughing again as he tried to explain to his sister the nickel, its story, and the hope it had restored to him.