Sydney, Australia. Many years ago.
“Here, Nick. Take this.”
I’m in awe. I’ve never seen two thousand dollars in person before. The freshly printed money smell whiffs past my nose as he hands the bundle of cash over to me.
“W-what for, Grandad?”
I can see the emotion in his face. He doesn’t know how to answer. He tries to keep cool, and begins to explain the situation.
He’s cut off by a call from his cell. “Give me a moment” he says. He hops out of the rusting patio seat and walks off by the bushes.
We are sitting pool front in Grandad’s retirement home. The air is filled with sadness in this place, every time you walk past a tenant they eyeball you, look you up and down. Wishing they could turn back the clock just one more time, get another chance. It’ll all be over soon for them, but it’s just the beginning for me. And I’m scared. I don’t want to die like them, rotting in a home with strangers. I want to die in peace, with a partner by my side. Surrounded by friends, or even foes, dying for a good cause. I’d hate to be dragged down by disease, or even loneliness. Depression can even kill these days. If these wilting people lived to this long, obviously their immune system probably isn’t going to give up on them. What’s going to give up on them is themselves.
Grandad returns to his seat, with a smile on his face. “Happy 21st birthday, Nick.”
I start to laugh; as he speaks in a rather sarcastic manner.
“Have you forgotten how to count, old man? I don’t turn 21 for another three years!” I say.
Suddenly, the cheerful tone of the conversation turns sombre.
“Nick, I want to keep it short and sweet. I’m giving this to you now, because lord knows I won’t be able to give it to you later.”
Tears start to fill his eyes; I lean over and give the old man a hug. I’m possibly the least emotional guy you can find, but I genuinely felt sadness. He knows he won’t be able to make it to my 21st birthday, which makes my heart sink.
“Thanks Pop. This gift means the world to me,” I say, as Grandad starts to smile again, “You will be there with me when I turn 21. I promise.”
Grandad laughs, “Now, now. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” There is an awkward silence. I start to make conversation again.
“Well, this is alot of money. What should I do with it, buy a car or something?”
Grandad leans in, and clears his throat. He looks me dead in the eye, and goes from grinning to a straight face in seconds.
"Buying a car for yourself is the last thing I want you to do with the money. What I want you to do with it is on a far more personal level. Your girlfriend, Laina, I know you really like her, and I know you want to have a future with her. Imagine if you marry this woman, give her a family, give her a house. Put that roof over her head. You can't do that without money. This money, invest it. If theres anything I can tell you, it's that going out gambling my earnings every night whilst your grandmother was at home feeding your dad staples whilst going to bed hungry was one of the worst decisions I have made in my life. I should've been there for her, through thick and thin, when times are tough, but I wasn't. However, providing for your partner is only part of the story. When she needs you, you give her your all. Regardless of the situation. Wether she gets fired, crashes her car, or is about to take a bullet, you will be there for her."
Grandad's voice starts to quiver, as he starts speaking from the heart, "When your grandmother had her accident, the money I had wasted away on slot machines could've saved her. And it kills me, that only now once shes gone, I realise how bad I treated her. I want to turn back the clock and start over, but I can't. Now, I said don't make promises you can't keep, but Nick...promise me that you will always be there for Laina, and promise me you will provide for her with this money. Promise me you won't make the same mistakes I did."
I look grandad into his eyes. I clutch hold of the money.
- Nick's Grandfather
- This is based on true events.
- This wasn't intended to be a whole issue on it's own.