I’d grown up in a middle class family with 3 brothers and 2 sisters. I was neither the youngest nor the oldest and at times I felt dead. I’d been neglected since the age I could barely stand on my own two feet. It wasn’t that my parents disliked me; of course they liked me. I “was” and “am” their son but I had a peculiar relationship with everyone in my family and I was the runt for sure. There was one man who I felt I could connect with; I felt we shared something, and he was my grandpa.
It was a type of power that evolved whenever we approached one another but we very rarely visited him because, just like me, the rest of my family thought he was just a tad on the bizarre side of life and the black sheep of the family. They did not like the company he kept, especially Clive. About four years ago mother and father went away to celebrate a wedding anniversary. My siblings and I were sent to stay with grandpa for a period of two days. His house was full of collectibles from his travels – I found them fascinating, but the rest of family considered them rubbish.
Our visit gave me lots of opportunity to listen to grandpa’s intriguing tales behind each valued object. Who knows whether they were true, but it certainly passed the time of day. The rest of the family just watched television. The weekend passed and it was time to go home. I reached for the latch to welcome my parents as they pulled up outside, my brothers and sisters ran out – they couldn’t wait to get away, but then a bony hand grabbed me. It pulled me back with force. It was grandpa. It was as though he wanted to tell me something.
He didn’t want seem to want me to leave. My parents dragged me away and as our car sped out of his drive. I looked back and saw grandpa standing in the window, his piercing eyes fixed on me. One cold winter’s morning we received a phone call stating that grandpa had passed away. As children, we were not told under what circumstances he had died but, for me, this was devastating news. My mind began to run riot with all sorts of conspiracy theories – perhaps some of those stories he had told me were true. The one person who understood me was gone. My mother read the will out.
I was hopeful that our special relationship would bear fruit, and I thought he must have given me something of value, something from the treasures he had in his house. But I was wrong once again. I inherited some spare change –several coins from all over the globe, different shapes and sizes, tarnished, and to me useless. After a few weeks of somewhat lacklustre planning a funeral was thrown together. I took coins from grandpa to the funeral – although they didn’t seem that special, I wanted to have the change in my pocket as I said my goodbyes to him. On reflection, I had realised I wasn’t bothered what I had received from him.
After all I had been prevented from seeing him for 4 years before his untimely (and to my mind suspicious) death so I probably shouldn’t have expected too much. I was puzzled though as to why he left me such an odd donation and it made my brain start to tick. The service had ended and I made my way over to where the open coffin was. My grandpa was lying silently. I could see sadness on a few faces of the congregation, especially Clive, who had travelled to many of the exotic places with him, but the majority of the people at the service showed a sense of relief as if to say, “We won’t have to worry about him any more.
The church hall, where my mother had planned the wake, felt damp and the walls were bleak. As usual, nobody came to speak to me. Occasionally people glanced in my direction. I imagined them saying “Oh him, yes he’s just odd, just like the old man”. To entertain myself, and partly to annoy my older siblings, I jingled grandpa’s old change around in my pocket. I had now created a sort of game in my mind where I’d feel each coin between my fingers and try to remember where it had come from by its shape and size and the pattern on its face.
I tried to remember the stories that grandpa had told me and used my mind to embellish them, often including sinister things happening to one of my brothers or sisters. As I did this for the sixth or seventh time I pulled out a sharp sided coin, looking almost as though it had been made like this on purpose. Wrapping the coin in the napkin and placing it in my trouser pocket, I decided I had had enough of being solitary and I made my way out into the damp and musty air and round to grandpa’s freshly dug grave.
It was eerie in the graveyard – night was beginning to fall. At the side of grandpa’s grave was a stooped figure dressed in black. It was Clive. I took out the coin which had a few small words barely legible on it. I read the words out loud. It read “Is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream? ” Clive gasped. Several days later I received in the post an identical coin with a scrap of paper which read “hang onto these coins lad, one day you will be able to change them into a fortune. ”