Grandpa’s Locket

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
November/December 2004

By Jessica Ro, Illustrated by Kristin Allmon

“So, Grandpa, how’s life been treating you?” my older brother asked cheerfully.

My grandpa just shot back an icy look, looking at him for a long time without a blink.

“OK,” my brother whispered, raising his eyebrows.

“So, Dad,” my mom said with a fake smile, “are you planning to go on vacation or something? All you do is roam around your house in Wisconsin. That’s no fun.”

We were in a nice, Italian restaurant in Hollywood, trying to get Grandpa to at least move. Grandpa is hard to explain. He doesn’t like to do really anything, except scratch the back of my dog, Storm, who doesn’t even like Grandpa scratching him. He always wears a checkered shirt with gray suspenders and a brown hat that covers his bald head.

Once again Grandpa just stared at my mom with that same look. She moved to the back of the velvet chair, deciding not to talk again.

“Hello, what would you like today from our fine cuisine?” the waiter said as he came in his nice shirt and silk vest.

“You have pancakes?” Grandpa muttered.

“No, sir, but we have scrumptious past-. . .”

But Grandpa interrupted him and stood up, walking away from the table grumbling, “What kind of restaurant is this?”

We drove away from the restaurant into the dark freeway in silence. I flicked my auburn hair away from my eyes as the heater of the car grumbled, warming the cold night.

“Grandpa just ruins everything,” I said to myself.

“What did you say?” my mom asked, turning around from the front, with her silver glasses rim on her nose.

“Come on, just think about it,” I said with annoyance in my voice. “I’m supposed to be at Emma’s party, Kyle’s supposed to be at a football game, you’re supposed to be at a meeting. We blew off all those events to see Grandpa walk away from a restaurant.”

“Your grandfather will always be your grandfather, and when he’s in town we’ll do anything that he wants, even if it includes missing some pleasurable events.”

“God, I wish Grandpa hadn’t come. I just wish he’d stay on the farm, he doesn’t like us anyways,” my brother, Kyle, said as he rubbed his blue eyes from sleepiness.

“Yeah, why does Grandpa always have to bother us? I wish he’d just disappear,” I said as I pulled the ribbon on my blue dress.

I was changing from the dress into my pink pajamas when I heard my mom and brother talking softly.

“Why do they always have little conversations without me?” I said to myself.

I walked into the kitchen where they were talking. Mom and Kyle were still in their evening outfits, sitting on the short, wooden stools.

“What are you guys talking about?” I asked, giving a yawn.

“I don’t have to stand Grandpa anymore!” Kyle shouted with a huge smile on his face.

“Kyle, that’s not the way to say it,” Mom said while reading a letter.

“What are you reading, Mom?” I asked as I looked over her shoulder, seeing a long letter with the word “Congratulations!” printed on the top.

“I got accepted into the honor football team in New York! It’s for a month! We even get to go on first class of the airplane! I’m leaving in two days, if Mom lets me,” Kyle said, standing up from the stool.

“Well, it’s summer break. I guess you . . .”

“Yes!” Kyle shouted. “Thank you, Mom!”

My mom gave a sigh and looked at me as he skipped into the room. He stopped to look at me and gave a smirk and muttered, “Good luck with old man grump.”

Kyle had left, “generously” giving Grandpa all to me.

“Mom, let me leave too! You got to!” I begged.

“For the tenth time, no!”

I growled at her and slammed my door as I went into my room. I saw an envelope on my bed. I quickly opened it, hoping it would be a letter that would send me away from Los Angeles. It wasn’t, but it was an invitation to Derek’s birthday. It was tomorrow.

Gosh, I thought, they should tell us sooner. What if we have plans or something?

grandpas locket woman red hair

I opened the little clip and saw a picture. It was Grandpa holding me as a baby

The phone rang.

“I got it!” my mom shouted.

I slumped down on my pastel yellow bed and continued to read the invitation. I heard Mom answer the phone with a friendly “Hello,” but then she immediately dropped her voice down. I let go of the invitation and walked toward the living room.

“OK, I’m coming as soon as I can,” I heard her say.

“Where?” I asked. I saw her wringing the telephone wire on her finger with a worried look on her face. She nodded and hung up the phone.

“Get your jacket,” my mom said quickly. “We need to go somewhere.”

My mom drove to the hospital nearby. The red ambulance siren was ringing and I saw a few men carry out an injured man.

“Oh my God, something really bad happened,” I said to myself as I thought who could’ve got injured.

I ran in with my mom as her blond hair flew ahead of mine. We jerked to a stop in front of the emergency room, and saw a nurse with a white gown and a tight bun.

“Excuse me, I’m a relative of Steven Jonas,” my mom said to the nurse.

“Follow me,” she said.

We walked in and I saw Grandpa in numerous numbers of tubes. I screamed and the nurse quickly led me out of the room.

“What happened?” I asked the nurse.

“Your grandpa had a surprise heart attack,” she said in a calm voice.

How could she sound so relaxed? I sunk down into a chair behind me and started crying. Emotions spilled out for a person I thought I hated. Someone I had wished would just go away and stop bothering my family. But Grandpa was family too. I’d just realized that.

“Will he be OK?” I asked in sobs. The nurse, who was now kneeling next to me, nodded, squeezed my hand and left. Suddenly, my mom walked out and held my hand and led me in the room again.

“Don’t be scared,” she whispered to me.

I gasped when I saw Grandpa, tangled up in the tubes, looking so helpless. Mom stroked my hair and tried to soothe me but I gave lifeless stares at him, with tears pouring out from my blurry green eyes.

“Grandpa,” I whispered, my hands covered over my mouth from shock.

Mom and I had stayed at the hospital overnight, sleeping on the small, lumpy sofa next to the door of the room. We were woken up next morning by the nurse who shook us. I opened my eyes very slowly as she said those awkward words, “Your grandpa wants to talk to you.”

First, I forgot where I was, but as I walked in, a pale finger pointed toward me. It was Grandpa. I walked close to Grandpa and sat next to him. He used all his strength to take off a necklace. Taking gasps between words, my grandpa said very softly, “This is for you.” He got my hand and put the necklace in it.

I looked at the golden necklace. It was made of a rusty, golden chain, with a small thick heart in the center. The heart seemed to be a locket, so I opened the little clip and saw a picture. It was Grandpa holding me as a baby. I was laughing and clapping my hands in the picture, and Grandpa was giving a soft smile. I never saw this picture before. I began to cry softly when I looked up and saw Grandpa about to speak again.

“This is the most memorable picture I have of you and me. Remember, Sarah, I love you, and I always will,” Grandpa said very slowly.

“I love you too, Grandpa,” I said, barely able to speak. I never knew I would say those words, but I truly meant it. I loved this man. He was my grandfather. He had loved me. I had never taken the time to go up to Grandpa to figure out if I loved him. I put my head on his shoulder when I heard him say softly, “Remember, I love . . .” I looked up and saw his eyes closed and his body still. I hugged him for a long time, crying quietly.

“I love you too, Grandpa, I hope you know that, I love you,” I said. Later on, I began to walk away, with my head down, crying on the necklace that was lying still in my hand. I was sad, but at the same time, happy too. I found the love for Grandpa that I never knew existed.

At home, I sat on my bed and opened the locket. I looked at the picture and kissed it.

“I love you Grandpa, I do.”

grandpas locket jessica ro

Jessica Ro, 11
Santa Monica, California

grandpas locket kristin allmon

Kristin Allmon, 13
San Jose, California

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