Grandma had the coin for as long as I can remember. She kept it in a small black box. It was the kind that rings come in, the kind lined with velvet. Grandma kept the box in a small wall safe under a picture of my cousins and me. The coin was Grandma's favorite possession. Every time I went over to her house, she told me the story of the coin.
She always began with when she had found the coin. It was the day after the ship had landed in New York City. My grandmother and grandfather had come from Poland on that ship. They had left all they had behind to search for a new life in the United States, free from the poverty and war in their native land.
They were walking to their new apartment from their factory jobs when they saw a small glint on the sidewalk. My grandmother bent over to inspect it more closely. It turned out to be a dingy quarter. My grandmother picked it up, turned to my grandfather and said, "This coin is a good omen, a sign of good fortune to come." They took the coin to their little apartment and cleaned it to make it shine. The next day my grandmother got a better job at a jewelry store, where she got the box for it.
As the years passed, my grandparents went through good times and bad. My father and uncles were born, my grandfather was laid off from the factory, but got a job at a big machinery company that had just been built. This forced my grandparents to relocate to Connecticut. There, my grandparents finally found the good fortune my grandmother had predicted. They lived there for many years as my father and his brothers grew up.
When my grandfather died three years ago, my grandmother moved in with my family. This is when she promised the coin to me, her oldest grandson. Every day she told me this story. After a few months I could practically tell the story in my sleep, but still she told me the story every day, stressing the importance of passing on the coin. A few months ago, my grandmother began to fade. Her memory got increasingly bad, and so did her eyesight. Soon she could barely hold the coin. Last week she died. At the reading of her will, Phoebe, my youngest cousin, got her collection of antique glass lamps, Grace got Grandma's pearl earrings and brooch, and Fred got Grandma's collection of classic novels. I got the coin. I think I made out best because I got the thing that meant the most to my grandmother, and I will cherish it forever. 1
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.