“It’s mine and you can’t have it. You shouldn’t even get to see it.” The old man’s sudden burst of fury came as a big surprise to the boy, Jack, his grandson. His grandfather had never yelled at him before. Young Jack did not know what to do as he saw his grandfather, also called Jack, clutch the article close to his chest. So he just walked out of the old man’s room, in tears, but not wanting to show that to Grandfather Jack.
When his grandson had left the room, old Jack put the item down and shook his head, almost in tears himself, which came as something of a surprise to him. He slowly set the item he had been clutching down on the small table in front of him, which was not its usual resting place. He looked at it intently, as if he half-expected it to speak to him, telling him that he was wrong to say what he did. He then gently slid the object into its cover, so it would be out of sight, both to him and to his grandson..
Let me tell you a story.
A few days later Grandfather Jack walked into the living room where grandson Jack was playing a computer game filled with loud noises and bright flashes of warfare. The grandfather stared at the boy for a while before speaking. He saw that the boy’s game had just ended, so he grabbed the moment that was made available to him..
‘Let me tell you a story about what can happen in war.’ The boy reluctantly put the game down, and listened as politely as he was capable of at that moment. The old man realized that his audience was probably not going to listen to him for a long enough time to tell his story properly, so he kept the story short, even though the boy looked to be gaining interest near the end, and even looked like he was about to ask a question when the story had ended.
It was a story that the old man had thought through many times, but had never told to anyone before. He was glad that he had built up his nerve to do it. If he were of the sort that wrote a memoir, it would certainly be included. It was that important to him.
Not a Long Time Later
Not a long time later, grandson Jack was playing another computer game featuring wild warfare of flash, smash and crash. He heard the slow shuffling of his grandfather’s feet as the old man made his way into the room. In a matter of seconds, he turned off his war game, and asked his grandfather – “Can you tell me another story like the last one?”
His grandfather was happy to oblige. He coughed briefly, clearing his throat for the telling of his tale. It was longer than the first one, as he knew that his audience really wanted to hear it. It was about the same man as the first tale was.
As grandson Jack was listening, enthralled by the story, he wondered why his grandfather didn’t say who the man was that he spoke about. He didn’t have the nerve quite yet to ask him.
His Parents Talk to Grandson Jack
His father said to him, “Jack, we need to talk to you about your grandfather. We don’t know whether you have noticed it, but he is getting weaker and weaker. We won’t be able to take care of him much longer here at home. We are soon going to have to place him in a nursing home where he can have someone attend to him, maybe even a hospice…, based on what the doctor told us last week. Grandson Jack did not know what a hospice was, but from the tone in his father’s voice, he knew that it must be a bad place, maybe even a place where people went to die. And he wanted Grandfather Jack to stay with them for as long as possible. He couldn’t say anything that would change his parents’ minds, but he felt that he needed to say something.
“I will miss Grandfather Jack, especially his stories.”
His mother replied, “I know that he will miss you too”.
As the days went by, and as Grandfather Jack got weaker and weaker, he told more stories to Grandson Jack, all about the same man. Grandson Jack felt that he that person was someone he knew better than people he had met and had known for years. He asked more questions, and the sessions got longer because of it.
The Last Story
Grandfather Jack walked into the room where his grandson was on his computer. His slipper-covered feet slid across the floor, not once being lifted even a bit. When he finally reached his grandson, he tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to come with him to his room. The boy stood up quickly, not having been in the room since he had been yelled at by his grandfather. ‘This must be a special occasion’, he thought. It would turn out that he would be right.
The story began as usual, the speaking being a little slower and not all that much louder than a whisper. Grandson Jack moved his chair closer so he could hear the words properly.
When the tale was done, Grandfather Jack stood up and spoke. “Grandson, I am going to tell you now who the person is that I have been telling stories about. He was my grandfather Jack. I was named after him of course. The stories were about his experiences in World War I as he told them to me. As you can tell, your great, great grandfather was a very courageous man. For his bravery, he received a reward of honour. “
With those words, Grandfather Jack stood up and walked over to where the object was that he had warned his grandson off of not so very long ago. He unsheathed it. It turned out to be a sword, a very shiny sword. He must have been polishing it for years.
“When he was about to be put in a nursing home, he gave the sword to me, after telling me all his stories. Now that you know those stories, the sword can be handed over to you. Maybe someday you will have a grandson to tell the stories too.”
With those words he gave him the sword, handle first.