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Viewing her great-grandpa’s coin collection, the narrator realizes the power of keepsakes

I looked up at my great-grandpa’s picture. “Dad,” I asked, “what coins did my great-grandpa have?”

A little while back, my dad told me a story about my great-grandpa Toby. My dad said that he used to collect golden mint coins.

“I’ll show you,” my dad replied.

My dad left me staring at the picture of Toby. It was a black-and-white picture of Toby in his war uniform. In addition to the black—and—white, there were hints of gray. Tiny bits of color in the light and dark canvas. He fought in the Korean War. It saddened me that people started wars. Started violence.

Suddenly, Dad came back with a big, heavy bag. “Let’s go to my room,” I said.

As we walked down the wooden hallway, I wondered what could be inside that bag. When we got to my room, we sat the bag down onto my spotted carpet. Slowly, we opened it up.

Opening it felt like opening a treasure chest. But not a chest of gold and silver. It was a chest of much more. It was a chest of memories.

First, we found a big thing of small, tiny coins, still in mint condition. All of them were in a flat kind of paper. The paper showed how much each coin was worth. It’s funny how one coin, not of much value, can be worth so much more later.

Once we dug a little deeper, we found all kinds of small and big coins. Some in mint condition and some that were not. The ones that were not in mint condition were the ones that my dad, when he was a kid, had opened because he couldn’t resist.

I looked deeper and found a brown knife-coin. It was a memory from a war of great misery, yet the coin still gave me a happy feeling. It was as if the memory wanted to be happy. After admiring the coin, I found some medals. Those medals were from the same war but a happier part. It’s amazing how two memories, arising from the same place, can be so different.

About a year later, my parents and I went to Paso Robles. We decided that we wanted to go to Hearst Castle. It was a long drive to the castle. As I watched the ancient, brown trunks and lush, green leaves of trees pass, I wondered what I was going to see and do—besides touring the giant castle, of course.

When we finally arrived, I looked around the waiting area. I saw a restaurant, a ticket area, and a shop. Inside the shop were a bunch of Hearst Castle souvenirs. I was curious if I wanted to buy anything, so I took a look.

Suddenly, I was surrounded by magnets, postcards, and clothing of all shapes and sizes. It was like stepping into a Hearst Castle wonderland! Everything looked buyable, but a golden bowl of mint coins caught my attention. Suddenly the memory from a year ago flooded my brain like a single drop of water suddenly multiplying.

“Can I buy this?” I asked. So, I bought it in honor of my great-grandpa Toby.

Suddenly, the coin slipped out of my hand and fell to the ground. The plastic that was keeping it in mint condition broke! I bent down to pick up the shiny coin. The coin felt hard and cold; touching it was like touching a brand new tablet. I looked at the coin and realized that it didn’t matter whether it was in mint condition or not; it still was a coin of my own.

My great-grandpa was a very important part of my dad’s life, and now a very important part of mine. It was really magical going on that journey through my history. Based on the stories I hear, my great-grandpa was funny and kind. Those stories are the memories the coins have in them. The memories that need to be treasured. As someone who loves reading and writing, I love collecting stories. And memories are parts of a story. A tiny part of an even bigger picture.