Secret Message from Late Grandfather - 7/19

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Secret Message from Late Grandfather - 7/19

Postby Brian » Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:36 pm

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RE: Secret Message from Late Grandfather - 7/19

Postby boonie » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:37 pm

Papi was always doing these sorts, even with his war buddies, pulling elaborate pranks, or waking up in the middle of the night only to steal something of value from his bunkmate, and making him follow a ruse of clues until the prize had been found.  He got popped in the nose once, and he used to laugh telling this story, because it was a female squad leader who had hit him.  For some reason that was funny to him, that a woman had hit him.  I think she broke it, because his nose was slightly askew under the incandescent of his dusty writing lamp, but he said he fell onto a rock, and Grandma had passed away too long ago to either validate or call bunk on this or any of his other tales.

I kept the videotape paused while I wet to the kitchen and crinkled down the mini-blinds with my hand to peek out at the back corner of my yard.  I couldn't see it behind the base of the oak despite my leaning and messing up of the blinds altogether.  He would have been able to hide something there unseen from most of the windows on the east side of my house.  Clever Papi.

I resumed the videotape.  His hand and the note in it were only onscreen for a blip longer before he winked at the camera and put his hand in the pocket of his overalls.  If you didn't know him, you wouldn't have even looked at his hand.  But he was my Papi and I was his favorite.  I knew to look.  I only wished I had watched this videotape sooner. 

We gave him the downstairs room when he moved in because it was private with its own bath, and it beat the cost of a nursing home, and I would never have done that to him anyway.  I hurried downstairs into his closet and pushed clothes on hangers to the side until I found the overalls.  In the pocket there was nothing.  Not a note, not a bit of pocket lint.  Upstairs in the garage I found my gardening shovel, and a digging shovel.

"Boys, come here please!"  They were upstairs directly above me with their video game on too loud for my sanity.  I know they heard me because I heard my ten-year old groan.  "Boys," I said in my impatient voice.  They pounded down the stairs.  "I'm in the garage."

I handed my seven-year old the gardening shovel, and gave Jimmy the bigger shovel.  "It's a gorgeous day and your wasting in inside."  After their moans of 'aww, Mom' were over, I convinced them that it would be fun to have a pond in the backyard.  "In the corner behind the big tree," I said to them.

"You mean we can dig up the yard?"  Jimmy asked, and he was way too excited. 

"Just that one corner.  Make one pile of dirt and then we'll fill the hole with water."

They ran outside, but my heart raced faster than theirs.  I watched through the pinch of metal blinds from the kitchen, and then ran upstairs to my bedroom where I stepped on my husband's pillow to get a better angle of them from our window.  I cringed once when the bigger shovel got very close to whacking little Benjy, but then relaxed as they worked different ends, digging little by little, uncovering earth and a goody for me.

Papi Benjamin had passed away when Benjy was only four, so Benjy doesn't remember him much.  Jimmy's memories of him are fading because Papi treated us all to a Saturday at the Space Exploration exhibit, but when I reminded him, he couldn't remember Papi being there. 

The pile of dirt grew with my anxiety.  Three years.  I had meant to go through all his stuff sooner, but everything else seemed like a better use of my time than getting sad about him no longer being around.
My boys stopped digging. They ran inside with a package the size of a brick wrapped in plastic.  I had Jimmy open it.

Papi's Nighttime Journal of Pranks and Fun, was the title of the handmade book.  Inscribed inside was the following:  Dear Jimmy and Benjy, your mother has the best sense of humor of anyone in the world, so you need to make her laugh.  Be gentle with her, but be funny.  This book will show you how. Love forever, Papi.

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RE: Secret Message from Late Grandfather - 7/19

Postby smgood » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:46 pm

I can’t believe I’m taking that note seriously, I thought to myself as I brushed the hair out of my face with the back my hand, now black with dirt. I was already sweating and I had hardly broken the ground but then it was 98 degrees! I must be out of my mind!

Sadie, my trusty Collie lay in the shade watching me with a curious eye, wondering why I was acting so unusual. This was a far cry from my desk in the den where she was use to hanging out with me. I looked up at her and said, “I know, it’s crazy but you didn’t expect me to just ignore the note did you?” She looked at me as though it was a stupid question.
“Well, it wasn’t like Gramps, all this cloaked and dragger stuff, who knows what’s hidden back here!” I suppose he could have gotten really senile before his heart took him, I thought.

Suddenly, my shovel hit something. It sounded like metal. My heart skipped a beat. I knelt down and began to move the dirt away from a rectangle metal box, about the size of a small footlocker. It looked to be approximately 2 x 4 in size.
Sadie, interested now, got up and started sniffing around the box, clawing at the ground around it, curiously at first. The more we uncovered, the more frantic she became.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that she smelled something! ‘Oh my God!” What had Gramps buried?” “Sadie, Stop ” I commanded her. She sat back, reluctantly and waited. I put my arms around her and thought about Gramps, the man I knew him to be, broke the lock and opened the locker.

Inside were two things: Gramps old blanket, which Sadie had smelled, and wrapped in it, was the most beautiful carved box I had ever seen. It looked like it was made of mahogany and had been hand carved. The top had an intricate design of a little girl sneaking into a hen house.
Gramps note said simply:

“ To my mischief maker who was always looking for treasure in my hen house, you finally found them. Enjoy them and know that you have an angel watching out for you always.
I love you, Gramps”

Inside of the box were 3 wooden carved eggs. With shaking hands and tears in my eyes, I opened the first egg. Enclosed, wrapped in a piece of blue velvet was a topaz ring, my birthstone, which my father had brought home from the war. It was stunning even in the antique setting and obviously in need of repair and cleaning. I placed it on my ring finger and tears spilled down my dirt-covered face. I could see my Gramps and my Daddy, telling me “Put that back, Shelly, you’re too young for that just now. I promise you’ll get it one day”. Then one of them would take it off my forefinger and place it back in Granny’s jewelry box. “ Run along now, before you get into anymore mischief”. It felt so real, like I had traveled back in time.

I reached in and gently lifted the second egg. Inside was a picture of Gramps and me, a close up, riding on his tracker, in the apple orchards. Gramps was wearing his coveralls and rimed hat, which always smelled just like him. I was sitting on his lap, looking up in complete adoration, my hands moving, apparently talking. I laughed out loud as I was once again transformed to the white clapboard farmhouse I loved so well.

The last egg had a rattle to it when I lifted it up. When I opened it a key and a slip of paper dropped into my hand; it looked like a safe deposit box key. The slip of paper had two things written on it: Columbus Bank and Box 1127.

An hour later I walked into the Columbus Bank and holding my breath I asked for safety deposit box 1127. The clerk showed me back to a room full of boxes, pointed out the box, and then directed me to a private room in which I could open and examine the contents. With hands shaking I unlocked the box. Inside were 2 pieces of paper. The first, a deed to the farmhouse and the second, a treasury bond, in my name, that Gramps had taken out on the day I was born, Valued to day, at $650,000.

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RE: Secret Message from Late Grandfather - 7/19

Postby SHM_wd » Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:23 pm

I almost gave up nearly an hour into that maddening ordeal. Once I found the blasted shovel, which had somehow ended up in a corner of my garage wedged between a pile of life-size Halloween outdoor decorations and a hideously green vinyl bench my wife had rescued from sure death during a local diner remodel about 3 years ago, I had to deal with Faustus.

Part shih tzu, part terrier and 100% a pain in the ass when it got excited, my little Faustus worked himself into a full-fledged frenzy once we started digging. At first, I found it rather amusing to find myself digging in the corner of my back yard right next to my canine companion in the middle of the afternoon. But the deeper we dug, the crazier Faustus got. Before I knew it, I was being pummelled with dirt generously sprinkled with dog pee. Unfortunately, Faustus also tends to unexpectedly relieve himself when he gets really worked up. We were at that stage about 45 minutes into our little adventure. So, I did what any responsible dog owner would do; I brushed him off, carried him inside and laid him on the couch with his favorite chew toy while I went back to digging.

Even then, it never occurred to me that Gramps might be pulling a fast one on me. It was fate that I saw the message when I did. Think about it. What are the chances that I would pick that particular home movie to watch on the one day out of the year that I'm home alone all day because of a company-wide forced day off? The last time I watched a home movie was five years earlier when we hosted Christmas dinner.

What about the fact that on this particular day, my wife couldn't miss work because of a quarterly executive planning meeting? Coincidence? Maybe, but not likely. Had she been home, there is no way in hell she would've put up with me digging up a massive hole in the back yard. Besides, it wasn't Gramps' style to be tricky. Clever, yes, but not tricky.

It wasn't long before I hit paydirt. As I plunged my shovel into the dirt not five minutes into my second round of digging, I heard the unexpected clang of metal on metal. I pulled a Faustus and frantically used my front paws to dig the treasure up. I gasped as I realized it was my old tin Thomas the Tank Engine coin bank.

The memory was as clear as though it had happened yesterday. I was 13 and fed up with being treated like a kid. I didn't have to order kids' meals anymore when we went out to eat, so why couldn't people stop treating me like a child?

"Today's the day, Grandpa," I told my grandfather at breakfast that morning.

"What's that, TJ?" He'd calmly taken a sip of his black coffee and looked me straight in the eyes as he waited for my pronouncement.

"I'm getting rid of all my dumb kid stuff today," I announced. "I hate being treated like a kid. Besides, I really don't care about any of the little kid stuff I have anymore."

"O.k." That's all he said.

Later that afternoon when I got home from school, I handed him a couple of boxes filled with treasured items from my childhood. Gramps hated throwing things out. He much preferred to donate them.

"You sure about all this, TJ," he asked, picking up the Thomas coin bank and gently repositioning it so it wouldn't get dented.

"Yup," I said as I walked away.

My heart lurched when I first pulled the rusty old tin box out of its hiding place that afternoon. Of all the things I had owned, that Thomas coin bank had been my greatest treasure and the one item I regretted not having kept. Truth be told, it had spent many a night tucked underneath my pillow right up until my 13th birthday.

I gently brushed the dirt off the coin box with my shirt and wiggled the latch open. Inside was a note from my grandfather.

"In life there are treasures that we must forever hold dear. Grandsons and cherished keepsakes are mong them. I'll love you always, TJ. -- Gramps."

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