My grandmother was a shrewd woman. She drank gin all day and kept Rolaids between the couch cushions for her constant heartburn, and she had strong opinions — about politics, about taxes, about us doing well in school. She paid me for straight As and after dinner she’d get all the grownups together so she could hold court and talk about her Southern Democrats. My grandfather, the retired diplomat, would sit quietly in the other green armchair in his seersucker suit, and he’d smile at us grandkids while Grandma opined.
Grandma had lots of thoughts about lots of things, and one of those things was taxes. She had a large estate as she grew older, including several waterfront properties on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Properties she paid $10K for and were worth upwards of $500K when she saw her end coming near.
She was ready to go as early as her 70s. She lived a full life around the world as the wife of a diplomat. Her sons were grown and had their own families, and she was proud, and she was done. She was ready to Go to her Reward.
Grandma put her sons on her property deeds before she died so that they wouldn’t have to pay estate taxes on them, she put us grandkids as joint owners on her stock certificates for the same reason, and every time we’d come over, even when I was just a kid, she’d say, “If there’s anything you want, let me know. I’ll put your name on it and you can have it when I’m gone.”
Going around her house, I liked to inspect things things. I’d check the back of an oil painting and see my uncle’s name, “Rob.” Lift one of the heavy glass seagulls and on the base see my dad’s name, “Henry.” I chose a round end table with a drawer, and I remember every time I went to her house after that, I’d pull the drawer open and see a narrow slip of paper in there, barely wider than the piece of clear tape that secured it. In my grandmother’s handwriting, shaky from her old age, I saw my name, “ANDREA.”
I left the slip in there after she was gone. Every few months, I’d open the drawer, just to see my name, in Grandma’s blue ink, and I’d smile.
For the month of April, I will be publishing a 10-minute free write each day, initiated by a prompt from my prompt box. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. Trying to get back into the writing habit.