Grandmothers should love grandchildren. Grandmothers should knit sweaters and bake cookies. Grandmothers should be kind.
Grandma Lola lacked these traits. She was a thin, stooped woman who whacked misbehaving children in the belly with her cane and laughed the scariest laugh when she watched her old television.
I would say, “Grandma!” when her laughter scared me.
“Marcos, my son!” laughing. “Life’s too brief. Join me. Let’s watch this program.”
I would sit next to her, embracing my teddy bear, afraid it might become a monster and eat me. My mother died when I was four, and Dad brought home Clara, my stepmother.
Clara sucked. After Dad left, Mother forgot me. Clara and Dad sent me and my stepsister, Andy, to Grandma’s while they worked.
Grandma Lola’s food was awful, but she loved us. She was a kind granny who pretended to be strong and snarky. I was a fool!
“Have you seen all the chicken I’ve prepared for them?” she boasted one day after spoiling the chicken curry. “Eat it, you’ll grow like a giraffe!” Her scary laugh returned.
Grandma Lola scared me till I was ten. Six years to acclimate to her cuisine, laughs, and stupid jokes. By then, I couldn’t live without her.
She shielded me from harm like a mother. She defended me after seeing my misfortune.
Andy and Clara despised me. My father was their priority. When Dad was away, they would tease and hurt me. Clara skipped dinner one night. She took care of us while dad was on business.
Next morning, I hugged and cried at Grandma Lola’s. My tears washed away my fear.
Honey! worriedly. “Marcos, why are you crying?”.
That day’s embrace was unforgettable. After my mother’s death, I finally felt protected and cherished.
“She did what?” said Grandma Lola.
“Clara didn’t feed me dinner, Grandma,” I cried. I was starving.
“Liar!” Andy shouted. Grandma! “Lying!”
Grandma Lola wisely replied, “We’ll find out who’s lying!”
Grandma Lola cooked a big pot of chicken curry and toasted bread.
She said, “Eat,” serving us big portions.
I devoured the food. As usual, the chicken was horrible, but I ate it all. I usually ate a couple bites.
Grandma raged that day. She glared.
“How can you and your mother do this to my grandson!” she cried at Andy, who was hardly eating. “What else, Marcos?”
Grandma told Dad about Clara and Andy that day. Clara apologized to Dad again and posed as a “nice” wife.
No change followed. I just spent more time with Grandma Lola and her buddy, Mr. Tomas. Grandma Lola, his neighbor, cared for him after his family abandoned him.
Andy, Clara, and our family teased Grandma Lola for taking care of Mr. Tomas.
“She’s sleeping with that rich, lonely neighbor!” Grandma and Mr. Tomás said Clara. That old hag is shameless.
But Dad… His fate is unknown. Clara altered him. He ignored everything. He ignored his mother, Grandma Lola!
No one visited Grandma when she was bedridden. I took care of her alone at 15.
Marcos! Grandma Lola told me. Honey, your love and attention will be rewarded. Kindness is priceless but might bring unexpected retribution.”
Thirty-two years later, I gazed at the piggy bank she left me and remembered her harsh, terrible laughing. I cried as I realized I was a fool to think she was a terrifying woman who would transform into a monster and eat me.
Grandma Lola split her inheritance equally between Andy and myself after she died. She also left me her old piggy bank, which decorated my bookshelf.
I inadvertently dropped it while dusting the shelf. I was terrified as it broke. The floor was covered in dazzling, shimmering stones.
Diamonds? Am I dreaming?
Grandma Lola lived simply. Since marriage, she used a broken TV at home. She never altered or relocated. Life was spent in her old house.
I sat down and sorted the “stones”. I had read that true diamonds don’t tarnish when breathed on, thus I was shocked to find that stones were diamonds!
How did Grandma Lola get them? I noticed Grandma Lola’s note when I picked up a huge broken piggy bank piece.
The note read:
“My dear Mark,
Thank you for being the lovely grandson you were. Remember I told you that love and kindness would be rewarded? Well, Mr. Tomas left this to me before he died. They are his family heirlooms that were passed down from generation to generation. He gave them to me as a thanks for taking care of him, and I wanted to give them to you as a reward for being my best grandson.
They will come in handy whenever you need help. I have always loved you, my little boy. I’m sorry Grandma couldn’t make you cookies and knit you sweaters like other grandmothers. But do grandmothers stop being grandmothers if they don’t do all that?”.