Lisa reached up and tugged on her dad’s coat sleeve. Nathan looked down as she mouthed the word, Me!
Standing bravely, Lisa held tightly to the coin her grandfather had given her after she’d challenged father and son to fix the feud that was way past in need of being fixed. She’d watched her father since that moment, grow and forgive. The two most important men in her life had faced a difficult thing and deepened her faith in family. She couldn’t not say something, as difficult as it was going to be.
Fighting back the tears, Lisa spoke. “I’m so proud today,” she sputtered. “I know that sounds weird. I’ve known my grandpa all my life, but I didn’t know everyone he knew. There are so many people here I don’t recognize and I wonder how many stories I’ll never know. He was a grandfather to me. But he was a friend or a doctor or a neighbor to everyone else here. I bet everyone could tell a story that would amaze me and surprise many of us.
“Grandpa used to take me to The Orchard when I was younger, just the two of us. He told me stories and showed me all the places he played as a child. I remember the old oak tree on the ridge. One time he let me climb up on the big limb he used to sit on for hours as a kid. He’d said it was a different world up there. It was so beautiful and magical, really. I remember looking down at him and he had the biggest smile spread across his face. He was so alive and happy in that place. I will remember that smile for the rest of my life.
“Then, we’d always get ice cream at the soda fountain that was still open at that time. It was in the general store he used to go to as a kid to buy penny candy out of a jar. He knew the counter person by name and always asked about his family.”
Lisa smiled at the memory, paused, and then raised her right hand high in the air, holding out one of Annette’s gold coins.
“My grandpa gave me this golden coin when I was in high school. He said that I’d helped him and my dad. That I’d made a difference for them. At the time I thought it was kinda cool, you know. But I have carried this coin with me ever since. I’ve heard stories from Dad and Uncle Garrett and Annette at the coffee shop. I’ve actually witnessed coin exchanges in stores around Woodinville. I mean, gosh.” Lisa smiled.
“This coin has grown in meaning. For me, it has become a symbol of trust and love. It represents a way to connect. And the truth is I have not been the same since I got it. It has helped me become more aware in every interaction I have with people, whether they are family or friends or strangers. When I open my purse to pay for coffee or something from the mall or a movie ticket, I see it there and I am reminded of my personal mission to be authentic with everyone I meet.”
Lisa grimaced as she collected herself.
“I loved him so much. He was my grandfather, and he was my biggest fan.”
Lisa started to cry, making no attempt to fight it back. Tears were streaming down her cheeks as she walked up to the casket and placed the coin gently on the surface. She then leaned over and, just as her father had done, kissed the oak wood sweetly.
“Goodbye, Grandpa. Love you forever.”