I started tracking U.S. currency on Where’s George?, the official currency tracking project, in 2003 when my son was 10 and my daughter 8. By the time my children reached adolescence, the novelty wore off for them. For me, the project captured my full attention. I eagerly watched for bills stamped or written with messages like “currency tracking project” and “Track me at WheresGeorge.com.”
As an official “Georger,” once I find a bill to track, before spending it, I log into my portal on the tracking site and enter the bill’s serial number. From there, I can also view the bill’s history, where the bill traveled and read pertinent comments from other Georgers. In addition, if any of my recorded bills get hits, I receive an email alert.
The Where’s George? website is the brainchild of Hank Eskin, a former tech consultant. He launched the website in 1998 as just “a quirky idea.”
On my “Georging” mission, about 11 years ago when I lived with a child-like faith, once while the bank teller was counting about 50 dollar bills, I happen to see a red streak of color. I convinced the teller to go through each bill. Fortunately, our search proved fruitful, and she located the stamped WheresGeorge.com bill and handed it over before I had to face the line of riled up customers waiting behind me.
Though it was fun, I didn’t take it seriously and certainly didn’t get anywhere near a top bill tracker. Of the 23 bills I recorded in 17 years, only three have had hits across the country. My hit rate is a measly 13.04%.
The last 9 years has been a series of faith tests with each one that feels more unachievable than the next. During this period, it is likely I may have overlooked George bills or they simply haven’t crossed my path, but there have been few and far between. In fact, between 2017 until February 2020, three months after my 26-year-old son died, I did not spot any Where’s George? bills.
This changed in February 2020 when I found a WheresGeorge.com stamped bill. It had been so long that I had to reset my password, but I did manage to get back into my portal. In turn, I simply recorded the serial number and commented, “This bill was part of the mall merchant’s change that I received.”
More recently, on August 15, I found another dollar and this is the comment I left on the tracker:
“I received this bill as part of my change yesterday at the nail salon. Its in fairly good shape; Wheres George.com is written in red all over it! Second Wheres George bill I found since losing my son, and it gave me a sense of familiar comfort.”
On August 18, I received an email alert and the following comment took me by surprise:
“Someone noticed your comment and shared this bill in the Where’s George forums. I’m sad to hear that you lost your son and I wanted you to know some of your fellow Georgers are thinking of you.”
This was my reply:
It was an unexpected, heartfelt surprise to receive your email. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes. I tried to find your post on the forum, but came up dry.
I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to reach out. My son will be gone 9 months tomorrow. He was a compassionate, honest, hardworking 26-year-old who was too good for this hard, cruel world. After a valiant fight, he took his own life.
It’s unbearable to learn to live with grief combined with great remorse and guilt. He was not only the best son a mother could ever ask for, but my best bud too. Some days it is very hard to get through, but today you and my fellow Georgers helped to make it possible. Again, I can’t thank you enough.
Stay well. Stay grounded. STAY.
I wrote my reply quickly. When I reread it, what resonated with me was how I described my son’s “valiant fight.” I thought about his suicide in terms of a cowardly flight, not brave fight, and now the wider perspective softens my feelings of anger, despair, guilt and helplessness.
The state of one’s mental health can be insidious. In my son’s case, he “looked” healthy and “performed” well on the outside. Inside, though, was an entirely different (brain) matter. I now understand he had mentally and spiritually deteriorated.
In fact, the more he worked to “prove” his “normalcy” to the world, particularly in his career and personal life, the internal demons swamped him. Many people may muddle through life, slip on occasional sandy terrain and, perhaps, wrestle with strong water currents, but I believe that, fortunately, most will not be forced to face the impervious rock-hard challenges that my son fought against. He battled against unbeatable enemies until that dark November day when he finally succumbed to depression and anxiety.
Thanks to a Georger, I come to recognize just how dependent we are on our brain wiring. And with the right wiring, we can sense a connection to others in many different ways that can help steer us back on the tracking system of faith.
Georger Saga to be Continued!
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