Grandma Lola was the most beautiful person in my life after my late mother and I was devastated when she died. One day I accidentally dropped the piggy bank she left me and diamonds spilled out of the inside…LOTS of them.
Grandmothers should love their grandchildren. Grandmother should know how to knit sweaters and bake cookies. Grandmothers should have gentle, tender hearts.
Grandma Lola was neither. She was a frail, stooped woman who would poke the stomachs of naughty children with her cane and laugh the most horrible laugh as she watched her old television.
“Granny!” Her laugh sometimes scared me. “You… you scare me, Grandma!” I said often.
“Oh, Morris, my boy!” she giggled. “Life is too short for all this. Come on, join us. Let’s see this show together!”
I sat next to her, hugging my stuffed animal, terrified that she would turn into a monster and devour me. I was only four when my mother died and after that my father brought home Clara who became my stepmother.
Clara wasn’t nice. She only loved me when dad was home and then she forgot I even existed. Since Clara and Papa both worked, me and my stepsister Andile were sent to Grandma Lola’s house while she was away.
Grandma Lola cooked the worst, blandest meals but fed us with love. Despite pretending to be this rough, tough, sassy grandma, she had a lovely heart that knew how to love everyone around her. What a fool I was not to see that!
“See all that chicken I made for you two?” she boasted one day after ruining the chicken curry. “If you eat this, you’ll get as big as a giraffe!” Then she laughed that awful laugh again.
I was afraid of Grandma Lola until I was ten years old. Six years… that’s how long it took me to get used to her cooking skills, her laughter and her bad jokes. But by then I couldn’t imagine my life without her.
She protected me from all evil like a mother protects her child. She saw the wrong things happening to me and she stood up for me.
Andile and Clara hated me. They loved my father and wanted me out of their lives. When Dad wasn’t around they said hurtful things to me and worried me and one night Clara didn’t give me dinner. Dad was away on a business trip at the time and she looked after us.
When I went to Grandma Lola’s house the next morning, I hugged her and cried. And with my tears flowing freely, all my fear for her was washed away too.
“Oh my darling!” she asked me worried. “Why are you crying, Morris?”
I will never forget the love and warmth I felt in her embrace that day. It was the first time I felt so safe and wanted after my mother’s death.
“She did what?” Grandma asked Lola.
Kindness is priceless, but sometimes it brings unexpected rewards.
“Clara didn’t give me dinner, Grandma…” I sobbed, “and I – I was so hungry…”
“Liar!” Andile yelled at me. “Don’t believe him, grandma! He’s lying!”
“Well,” said Granny Lola wisely, “we’re going to find out who’s telling the truth and who isn’t!”
Grandma Lola went into the kitchen, made a big pot of chicken curry and toasted some bread.
“Eat!” she said, serving both of us huge portions of the food.
I was so hungry that I rushed to eat. The curry was terrible as always but I was starving and managed to do it all in one go! Usually I could only eat a few bites.
Grandma was angry that day. Her anger was visible in her eyes. “How dare you and your mother do this to my grandson!” she yelled at Andile, who was barely eating. “What else did they do to you, Morris?”
That day I poured my heart out to Grandma and she told Papa about Clara and Andile. But Clara went all out, faked an apologetic face in front of dad and once again managed to pose as a “good” woman.
You know, nothing changed after that. The only difference was that I started spending more time with Grandma Lola and her boyfriend Mr. Tammy. He was Grandma Lola’s neighbor and she took care of him after his family left him.
Andile and Clara and the rest of our relatives made fun of Grandma Lola for looking after Mr. Tammy and called her names.
“She’s sleeping with her rich, lonely neighbor!” Clara said of Grandma and Mr. Tammy. “That old witch is shameless!”
I felt terrible when they said that about grandma, but dad… I don’t know what happened to him. It seemed like Clara had changed him. He just didn’t care about what was happening around him. Grandma Lola was his mother and he didn’t even take care of her!
When Grandma Lola fell ill and was bedridden, nobody came to her. I was 15 at the time and I was the only one who took care of her.
“You’re a loving boy, Morris!” Grandma Lola said one day. “You see, darling, all your love and care will come back to you one day. Kindness is priceless, but it can also bring unexpected rewards.”
Thirty-two years later, I looked at the piggy bank she left me and remembered her loud, frightening laugh. Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized how stupid I had been to think that she was some scary woman who would turn into a monster and eat me!
When Grandma Lola died, I found that she had divided her estate equally between Andile and me. But she had left me one thing: her old piggy bank, which graced my shelf in my bedroom.
One day I was cleaning the shelf when I accidentally dropped it. When it broke into pieces, I was shocked. Along with the broken pieces on the floor were stones… sparkling, shiny pieces… lots of them!
Am I dreaming? Are those… diamonds?
Grandma Lola had led a pretty simple life. She had an old broken TV at her house that she had been using since her marriage. She had never replaced that TV, nor had she moved. She had lived her whole life in her old house.
I sat down, cleaned up the shards and sorted out the ‘rocks’. I had read somewhere that real diamonds don’t tarnish when you breathe, and I was shocked to find out these stones were…diamonds!
I was so confused how those diamonds ended up with Grandma Lola. That was until I picked up a huge broken piece of the piggy bank and found Grandma Lola’s note.
The note read:
“My dear Morris,
Thank you for being a wonderful grandson. Do you remember I told you how love and kindness would come back to you? Well, Mr. Tammy left me this before he died. They are his family heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. He gave it to me as a reward for taking care of him and I wanted to give it to you as a reward for being the best grandson to me.
These will come in handy when you need help. I’ve always loved you, my little boy. I’m sorry grandma couldn’t bake you cookies and knit your sweaters like other grannies. But aren’t grandmothers grandmothers if they don’t do all that?”
What do you think? Are grandmothers always supposed to be these caring, loving creatures? Or can they be funny, charming, smart but still loving and caring like my grandma Lola?
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