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Boy Regrets Not Opening Rusty Coffer His Grandpa Gave Him until after He Dies — Story of the Day

Manuela Cardiga
Jul 14, 2022
02:00 P.M.
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After his death, a successful man discovers a treasure trove in an old box his grandfather had given him years before and regrets his neglect.

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All my life I've prided myself that I'm a self-made man, that I made it on my own. Now I have to admit that is not true. I didn't make it alone as I told reporters.

I had plenty of help. One person stood by my side through all those difficult times, holding me steady. But I never gave my grandfather the merit he deserved until now.

Jamie's parents died when he was six. | Source: Unsplash

Jamie's parents died when he was six. | Source: Unsplash

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Am I bitter? I guess I am. I was six years old when my parents died in a car crash. My whole world fell apart. I was handed over to a man who was practically a stranger to me.

I was taken away from my pretty home on the outskirts of Los Angeles where I went to school and all my friends lived, to a small town in Nebraska.

I knew no one, not even the grandfather I was living with. I had no friends, and I hated that small poky house my grandfather lived in. I desperately wanted my parents back.

The pain from our past shouldn't define our future.

I cried myself to sleep a lot of nights. My grandfather would sit on the edge of my bed and gently caress my hair. "It will be alright, Jamie," he'd say. "You'll see."

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I didn't see it at all. My pain grew greater as time went by and the only thing that helped me was running. I love to run. When I was running the world fell away and there was no pain.

Jamie had to move to a small town in Nebraska. | Source: Unsplash

Jamie had to move to a small town in Nebraska. | Source: Unsplash

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The only sensation was my breath whooshing out and my feet hammering the ground into submission. My focus made me a brilliant athlete.

My grandfather was there at every track meet, and his enthusiasm, his shouts of encouragement, and his pride embarrassed me. By the end of high school, I was a star and I didn't want him around.

When I graduated, I had colleges vying to get me on their track teams. I went to a prestigious school to study engineering on a full ride.

The day I left, my grandfather walked into my room. He was carrying a small rusty tin. "I wanted to give you this, Jamie," he said. "Before you go to college. You're about to start a new life, and I want you to remember..."

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"Right," I said. "A new life away from this one-horse town. And believe me, I don't want to remember anything about the years I spent here."

Jamie's grandfather raised him. | Source: Unsplash

Jamie's grandfather raised him. | Source: Unsplash

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He was hurt, I could see that, and in a way, it made me glad. It was strange, you know. How you can feel ashamed and glad at the same time?

"Surely," he said quietly, "there are some good things..."

"Like what?" I asked bitterly. "Like living in poverty? Yeah...very good things!"

I saw tears glistening in my grandfather's eyes. "I did my best," he said softly.

"Well," I replied cruelly. "Your best wasn't very good, was it?"

He left then. The next day, he drove me to the train station. We rode in silence, and I wanted to apologize, I really did. But somehow those 120 miles just weren't long enough for those words to come out.

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"When I was running the world fell away and there was no pain." | Source: Unsplash

"When I was running the world fell away and there was no pain." | Source: Unsplash

When he helped me unload my bags, my grandfather said, "I love you Jamie, and I'm proud of you." He hugged me awkwardly and patted my shoulder, and I turned and walked away. It was the last time I saw him.

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Two days later, when I was unpacking in my new dorm room, I found the tin box. I threw it in the back of my closet and didn't see it again until four years later. Those were busy years. I studied and I ran. I earned my degree and won a lot of medals.

Once in a while, my grandfather would phone, but our conversations were strained and awkward. I finished college and moved to LA where I'd been born, and it was like coming home.

I forgot about my grandfather. I only remembered him when I stuck that blasted tin box on a high shelf in my new Venice Beach apartment.

Jamie's grandfather was there for every race. | Source: Unsplash

Jamie's grandfather was there for every race. | Source: Unsplash

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He, however, never forgot me. He'd send me cards on my birthday and at Christmas, and he'd call asking me to visit. I always replied that I was too busy. And it wasn't a lie, not really.

Three years later, when I got the news that he was dead, I was surprised by my pain. I hadn't loved him, had I? That old man who wasn't the father I missed so desperately. I hadn't loved him...

That night, I wept for him, and I remembered the old tin box. I hunted for it for hours, and then I found it. I struggled to get the lid off, it was so rusted.

Inside was a thick wad of photos I'd never seen before. The first ones showed me as a baby with my parents, my grandfather standing beside my father looking proud and happy. He looked quite young! He'd looked so old to me...

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Then there were photos of me and him, and he looked as old as I remembered him. He had his arm around me as if he wanted to protect me from the world.

Jamie finally opened the box his grandfather had given him. | Source: Shutterstock.com

Jamie finally opened the box his grandfather had given him. | Source: Shutterstock.com

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I saw the sadness in his eyes that the camera had captured, a sadness I'd never noticed. Another photo showed us fishing, in another, he was flipping burgers at a barbecue.

In all those photos he was smiling at me, hiding his own pain, his sadness. There were photos from every track meet I'd participated in, and the last photo showed our little ramshackle house.

There was a note at the bottom of the tin. "Jamie, don't let the pain in your past make you turn your back on who you are and where you came from. I love you, and I'm proud of you."

I cried that night. I cried for my grandfather, and for myself, for having turned away from the love he gave me all through my childhood. I'd opened the box of memories too late to make amends, but not too late to make him proud.

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When my son was born, I named him after my grandfather, and last year, I endowed a sports scholarship in his hometown in his name. I think he would have liked that.

"Don't let the pain in your past make you turn your back on who you are." | Source: Pexels

"Don't let the pain in your past make you turn your back on who you are." | Source: Pexels

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What can we learn from this story?

  • The pain from our past shouldn't define our future. Jamie's bitterness over his loss didn't allow him to see and appreciate how wonderful his grandfather was.
  • Family is the most important part of us, who we are, and where we came from. Jamie blocked away his love for his grandfather until he saw the photos, and remembered what they had been through together.

Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a young boy who learns the true meaning of honor and victory from his seriously ill grandfather.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

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