We raised our grandson and saved all our money so that he could go to college, but fifteen years later, we discovered the money was all gone.
I can still remember the night the phone rang with the dreadful news that our daughter, whom we had not seen in seven years, had passed away. Denise had been our only child and we were devastated.
Three days later, her husband Fred rang our doorbell. My husband Gordon was stunned. We didn't like Fred and his thieving ways and he was the main reason we'd been estranged from our only child.
Denise had loved Fred despite his faults -- and there were many -- and she and Gordon had had an epic blowout when my husband accused Fred of stealing money from his wallet.
That terrible night, our daughter had driven off with Fred, vowing never to return. She'd kept her promise, but here was Fred, turning up like a bad penny just days after the funeral he'd failed to attend.
Life brings us unexpected bonuses when we least expect it.
My husband opened the door. "What do you want?" he asked Fred harshly.
"No chit-chat, I see!" sneered Fred mockingly. "I want you to take the brat off my hands. I've got to start over, and wiping snotty noses is not my vocation."
I pushed past Gordon to stand in front of Fred. "Brat? What do you mean? Denise had a baby?"
"Yeah," Fred said, pointing his thumb to his car parked in our driveway under the hot Arizona sun. "He's in the car. Are you gonna take him or do I drop him at child services?"
But before he was even finished speaking, I had shoved him aside and was walking to the car. Sitting strapped into a child's car seat was a little boy about three years old, with huge blue eyes and a crop of golden curls.
"Hello!" I said gently. The boy looked me over and took his thumb out of his mouth.
I heard his clear little voice for the first time. "Are you my grandma Tessa?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied. "I am."
He nodded solemnly, looked me over, and replied, "Dad said that I'll be living with you now that Mommy's gone to heaven -- if you want me."
"Oh we want you," I answered, feeling tears flood my eyes. "What's your name?"
"I'm Gordy," he said, sticking out his grubby little hand for me to shake. "I'm three."
And that was it. Fred wanted to just drive off, but we made him go with us to our lawyer and sign an agreement in which he ceded his parental rights to us. Then he left and we never saw him again.
Gordy became the center of our lives. He was so beautiful, so like our Denise, and smart as a whip. He was only three but he could read, and we often found him sitting with one of our books, and he could understand them too.
By seven he had read everything we had and was halfway through the local public library. He was a sturdy active child who also enjoyed running around and being with his friends, but his passion was reading, mostly mysteries and sci-fi novels.
"He's smart," said Gordon one day, shortly after Gordy had come to live with us. "He's really smart -- we should start a college fund."
I laughed. "Come on Gordon, he's only three!"
Gordon shook his head slowly. "Listen, Tessa, he's going to university, and we're not rich. We're a pair of old retired geezers, and we need to start saving so the money will be there when it's time."
We saved what we could, but it wasn't much, so Gordon took on a part-time job as a security guard, and I started making rag dolls from fabric scraps and selling them at the local flea market.
The money started piling up, and by the time Gordy was seventeen, we had almost $36,000. But on the Saturday before his 18th birthday, I opened the locked desk drawer where we kept the money to put in $20 when I had the fright of my life.
"Gordon!" I screamed. "Come quick!" A minute later Gordon was standing by my side and we were both staring at the empty drawer. "It was locked," I assured Gordon.
"We've been robbed!" Gordon cried, and grabbed the phone. An hour later we were telling our story to two policemen. "It was in the drawer, over $30,000!" Gordon exclaimed.
The one officer shook his head and pursed his lips. "You should have kept it in the bank," he said judiciously. But Gordon drew himself up to his full height.
"My grandfather kept HIS money in the bank and when the crash came in 1929, he lost it all. I don't trust banks!"
Just at that moment, we heard the loud blare of a horn, and I looked through the window. There was Gordy behind the wheel of a brand new SUV, just like the one Gordon had been mooning about.
"Come on out!" he cried happily and jumped out of the car.
"Where did you get this?" I gasped, staring at the gleaming car.
"Oh," Gordy replied nonchalantly, "I used my college money, bought it cash and got a great deal."
"Your college fund?" Gordon roared outraged. "That was for COLLEGE!"
"Well," said Gordy, "since I'm not going, I thought you two deserved a new car. You've worked so hard to raise me, gave me everything, I wanted to give something back!"
The two police officers had been watching all this, and one of them said, "That seems to be the mystery solved. Unless you want to press charges, we'll be going."
Gordon glçared at Gordy. "There will be no charges. The car is going back to the stand, and my grandson is going to college!"
"No I'm not," said Gordy calmly. "I've got a job."
Gordon's temper got the better of him. His face swelled dangerously and turned purple. "You're not going to be working some dead-end job like me, earning $12 an hour!"
"Nope," said Gordy grinning and pulling a folded sheaf of papers out of his pocket. "GameOver just bought the concept for one of my games for $300,000 and I'll be working with them getting it ready for launching."
We were stunned. Gordy had been fiddling with his computer, making these games based on his favorite sci-fi and Agatha Christie novels for years, but we never took them seriously. Now he was about to become a star developer!
"Listen," Gordy said. "I know it's not fair to buy you a present with your own money? But I promise that in two years' time you'll get another one -- and that one I'll pay for myself."
Gordy kept his word, and two Christmases later he gave us a new car, a new house, and a wonderful world cruise so we could finally enjoy our retirement. He has now decided he wants to go to college, to Gordon's relief, and money is no longer a problem.
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