GrÜeBERfest - Grandfathers Gold - Death and DreamsSubmitted by RoadSong at 2013-10-20 03:38:52 EDT
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I told you the first part of this story in 2009. https://ubersite.com/m/121354?msg=publishSuccess
Submitted by RoadSong at 2009-03-09
When I got the call last year he just said in his abrupt way "Bird is dead". That's what he called her. They had been married over fifty years, and now he was alone in the big house on the hill with it's beveled glass and Jacuzzi.
I went to help in any way I could. Overflowing ash trays and vodka bottles were everywhere.
I called in a grief counselor and hired him a cook, a nurse, and a housekeeper, and got him signed up with Meals on Wheels. Things seemed to be going well and altho he said he did not want "those yapping women" around, I assured him he needed them. His health is fragile and truth is , he needed help around the place.
"Would you check the pantry and throw away anything old or out of date while you are here?"
Sure grandpa, will do.
I was assigning the new cleaning lady to finish the work in the pantry that I did not feel up to doing, and she was coming in the morning. Later that night as I was throwing cans of ancient beans in the trash I noticed a battered old ice chest on the pantry floor. Thinking there might be some rotting sandwich fossils collecting mold, I flipped one side of the double door open. It was full of something. Packages wrapped in tin foil. The one on the top had creases from being opened many times and I was dreading to see what it was. Before opening the tin foil, the package started to register in my brain as something familiar, the size and shape and weight. The package was about five inches thick and the shape of a dollar bill. Turns out it was not dollar bills but a stack of Hundreds! When I realized that the whole ice chest was probably more of the same, I explored no further. Wrapped up the Hundreds and threw them back in the ice chest and slammed the lid.
Next morning over coffee I pleaded with Grandfather to take that ice chest to the bank. He has always been known to keep large amounts of cash around the house. A favorite hiding place had always been the freezer. He always kept ten thousand dollars in new hundred dollar bills in some frozen food container and thousands more in his desk.
The ice chest was worrisome.
What would the cleaning lady do with an old ice chest and if she opened it? I had done background checks on the women I hired to work in the house, but that house could have had more cash in it than the small local bank!
Grandfather is in his mid eighties. He has lived a certain way most of his life. It is not my place to tell him what to do, but I sure did try and convince him that it was not a good idea to keep that ice chest full of money around the house.
I did not know if he would take my advice. I stayed a couple of weeks and went to visit someone in another state. The day after I left the housekeeper called my cellie and in a sobbing voice told me she and the others had been fired, Meals on Wheels included. He just told them to get out and never come back. Not a big surprise, he and Bird had lived like hermits. I was the only person to have been allowed inside the house since they had it built long ago.
Recently I went back to stay with him a while. He told me proudly that he had taken my advice and that a lot of his money was now in the bank. "You should have seen the look on their faces when I took those grocery bags full of Hundreds down to the bank, and I had to hang around there a while so they could count it. It was $450,000, I thought it was more".
Grandfather has an aversion to any paper money that is NOT a one Hundred dollar bill, and won't have a five or a ten in the house....
WHEW. What a relief. Patting myself on the back for my efforts, I asked him if there was anything he needed me to do for him while I was around.
"Clean out that damn vegetable drawer!".
I just cleaned around the money and left the carrots...
"Go to the airport and catch a flight, ticket is waiting at will call." Heya grandpa, what's going on, you OK? "You need to hurry kid, I have something for you." Sure sure, I'll see you in a couple of days, let me get the neighbor come over and water the garden and feed the cats while I am there with you.
"Go to the airport and catch your flight, hurry up Squirrel."
Here is The End of the tale.
I intended to wrap up a few details and take the flight, but being a world class procrastinator is a big job. Every day or so he would call, telling me to get on the plane, and every day I would put it off. After all, I have a life ya know. Decided not to fly, roadtripping was more fun. Half way to Arkansas I got the call. It was his neighbor lady. He was dead. I put the pedal to the metal and made it to Arkansas by dawn. His daughter Ruthie had wrecked her truck trying to get to his place before anyone, and I knew why. There was a fortune in cash stashed in Grandfathers house.
Grandfather never wanted to spend much time with his daughter Ruthie. She was a "nasty grump with a mean selfish streak" he claimed. She was busy tossing out the last of Grandfathers things when I arrived. She asked me if I knew any places where the old folks might have stashed money. Did you look in the freezer, the ice chest, the desk, and in the safe between the studs in the wall? "Oh sure, I got the cash from there." Well, what's missing then? "Grandfather went to the bank a few days before he died and withdrew almost $500,000 cash and I can't find it here in the house." WHAT!
"How close were you two and why was he so fond of you?" He said I was the dreamer of the family and he liked me to tell him tales of my adventures. He would rest in his chair with his vodka and juice, and I would tell him some of the stories I had posted on Ubersite. He even asked me to pull up this site on LappyTop and show him my stories and animations. He liked my rowdy tales the best, and he would laugh and slap his knee and tell me I was the only one of the kids that was worth a shit.
Ruthie said "I was cleaning out his things and found big plastic tubs full of porn in the closet". She is looking at me like a hawk looks at a rat. I wouldn't know about that, it was none of my biz. I did his laundry and put his clothes in the drawers and closets, but I never explored his personal belongings. I was taught as a child if it wasn't mine, don't touch it. "I put those tubs of porn at the Goodwill donation box, along with all his other things." I noticed she had managed to strip the house of all traces of Grandmother and Grandfather. She had gotten rid of things that would have meant so much to me. Small mementos like the china and photos, and the framed beveled mirrors that hung over the mantle. Gone. Not given to a family member, but dropped off in the supermarket parking lot like trash. It was a ghastly hateful thing to do, and now I understood why the old man disliked this daughter. I also understood why he wanted me to have cash before he died. She would not hassle me because I was not in the will, and she would never know he had shared his wealth with me.
I helped look for the missing money, I pried boards loose with a hammer and climbed up in the attic because Ruthie was too heavy to climb. Nothing. I did not ask for a single thing and declined her offer to allow me to sleep in my own room there at the house. I slept in my truck with Tweeter.
Before I headed off to Kentucky, she offered me the old mantle clock, but when I went to wrap it in a blanket and pack it, she said "Oh well, maybe I better keep it, it might be worth something". Instant headache no shit. She was the sole heir of the estate and the missing money was just a small part of it. I knew that if I had located the missing cash stash she would not have offered to share it with me.
Over the next few months I pondered on where my money could be. Ruthie had put the house up for sale within hours after she and I searched it.
Back in California I had the dream and saw where my money went.
A bent old man hobbling in the rain with a walking stick, rain dripping off the edge of his hat. He had a plastic bag with a few aluminum cans in it, and one pocket was bulging with cast off paperbacks. The other pocket held dinner for his family. Two cans of Beanie Weenies, a stalk of wilted celery and some saltines. Slim pickins, but better than nothing. Back was hurting and his knee was giving out after tramping around the village all day searching for recyclables and scraps to feed the family that had recently come upon hard times. The mill had closed and the men had no jobs, they lost their homes and the whole extended clan had set up camp under the railroad overpass. Tents and hovels cobbled together from pallets for sleeping, a splintery picnic table and stumps to sit on around the fire. Always damp, the kids always sick, and we been down so long we thought we would would never get back up.
Skirting the edge of the wet parking lot, the old fella noticed some plastic tubs sitting there alongside the Goodwill donation box. Maybe there were more coats and blankets today. Ignoring the throb in his bad knee, he lifted the lid of one tub. Movies! We can't eat em, but maybe we can swap em or sell em. The damn tubs were heavy, all of them. Stuffing a few DVD cases into his pocket with the crackers, he got home at nightfall, good thing too because his flashlight needed batteries and the rocks were slick under the tracks. When he neared camp the kids were coughing and laughing in spite of being hungry and homeless. The adults were quiet and aware of the hard and dangerous times they were living. The kids were too young to understand the dire straits.
When Gramps came home that drizzling night with nothing for supper but a few crackers and some dented Beanie Weenies, it felt like the end of the road. He tossed the DVDs on the picnic table and eased down by the fire and started taking off his tattered camo boots. There was nothing much left to do but heat the canned beans for the kids. The adults had saltines and the last of the wine. Gramps kept us going by collecting cans and buying bologna and bread and milk for the kids. We were scared to apply for welfare or food stamps because if the county found out we were living under the train tracks they would take our kids.
Little Jimmy grabbed the DVDs from the picnic table and was toddling around with his snotty nose and toothless smile. We were in a discussion concerning who should butcher our last rabbit when I looked up to see Jimmy with a handful of bills! WHERE did you find those dollars honey? He grinned thru his drool and handed me the empty DVD case. We dove for the other cases and there were bills in both of them! Not just one dollar bills, HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS. Gramps! Where did these films come from? "Down there at the Goodwill drop box at the Piggly Wiggly..." we were off at a run, the whole pack of us. Jr got there first, he had run track in school. He grabbed the first tub and we all lugged the other tubs, and we headed back to camp without even looking inside them for fear of getting busted for taking things without permission.
The tubs were on the picnic table and we said silent prayers of thanks for this gift that had come just in time. We started popping open the DVD cases. There was porn in the plastic cases on the top two layers, and then all the way to the bottom the cases were full of cash. Stacking the bills in rows, it got to the point where none of us could count any higher. Gramps started putting the money in pillow cases. "Gather the kids, we are getting out of here." We bought a truck and a SUV that night and headed out to a bright new future.
This is a story of horror and hope. You see, I am still living from check to check and my Jeep is barely running. Grandfather told me he didn't mind dying, he just didn't want to fall and have someone find him later "dead and stinking". The neighbor lady found him on the kitchen floor and I have to live with that.
I lost my inheritance, but it gave hope to the homeless.
I still miss you three.jpg