The Lucky Lens
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On an estate as large as a small town with trees as wondrous as a fairytale forest lies a mansion as grand as any palace, floored in marble, trimmed in gold, adorned for convenience the highest tech of amenities.
Amongst such privileged possessions one can only imagine what lay hidden in the vault, with its iron thick doors and beams of laser lights. Gold bouillon? Jewels of the highest order? While these treasures could indeed be found within the impenetrable chamber they acted more like a last line of defense, there to entice whomever’s greedy heart had managed to get this far.
So what lay in the center of this universe of wealth? Not platinum, only plastic, about an inch in length and three quarters of an inch in width. With nothing but scotch tape holding the damaged black frame together, a clear magnifying glass not even made of actual glass but rather basic plastic lie in its center. An item that would’ve cost no more than a dollar in its prime, Theodore would come down into this hidden tomb once a month to adore it.
He’d feel along its edges and think back, look at the surrounding lights reflecting in its lens and make them dance like a kaleidoscope with the slightest movement of his aging fingertips, such imagery evoking the remembrance of first having done so so long ago.
It was during a milestone, Theodore recently having reached double digits, the whole family having gathered in his parents two-story home to visit grandpa, no longer in the hospital but still too sick to leave his bed. At first the ten-year-old hadn’t understood this, wondering why grandpa had to leave the care of the doctors when he still looked so weak. No one wanted to explain, thinking Theodore’s double digits was still not enough for him to learn of the truth. A truth that finally only came after nagging one of his teenage cousin’s, a shove to the chest accompanied with “he’s come home to die, idiot. That’s why everyone’s here. To say goodbye.”
Theodore didn’t move, just lying there down on the floor where he had been thrown to, contemplating. There would be no more stories, no more of those caring sincere eyes looking down upon him, no more of that distinctive smell that was grandpa. He began to cry.
For the rest of the afternoon Theodore sat in that same spot, the hallway leading to the room where grandpa lay, watching as family member after family member went in to say their final goodbye and come out with a token to remember him by. His hat, his cane, his gardening tools, and so much more. Items that made grandpa who he was. Items which Theodore hated to see leave for the last time, as it just made this final goodbye even more real.
Finally it was Theodore’s turn, called in by his father who then softly shut the door to leave the two alone. By now tears had dried and the young boy was more numb than anything else, slowly approaching grandpa’s bed and taking in all that lay before him. Grandpa’s closed eyes, the sheets atop his chest barely rising and falling with what must have been his last few hours of breath. Those wrinkled arms and hands with blue veins like roads, so still they already looked lifeless, never again to hold him as another one of grandpa’s stories came pouring from that richly toned voice of his.
It was this thought where emotion started to creep back in through the numbness, a few tears welling up in Theodore’s eyes as grandpa opened his own and looked to him.
“Teddy, my dear Teddy boy…
“Come give grandpa a hug, will you?”
And so Theodore did, with heartfelt gentleness, absorbing these last few minutes of the kindest person he had ever met.
“How’s life been treating you, my Teddy boy?” A question he often asked.
“I’m fine, grandpa. I miss you. I miss our time together.”
Those sincere eyes shared his sentiment, grandpa sealing it with, “so do I, Teddy boy, so do I.
“But remember some of the stories we’ve read together. This is only part of the journey, there’s so much more out there, so much more to be discovered. I’m not leaving you, it’ll just be another journey. Remember, the wind you feel across your face is the same wind someone else felt across the world. I’ll be in the breeze of your own journeys… I’ll be there.”
Theodore could do nothing but nod his head, gently squeezing grandpa’s hand with the both of his.
That is until grandpa turned it over, revealing in his palm the small plastic magnifying glass grandpa had been known to use every now and then. At first Theodore didn’t understand.
“This belonged to your great-grandfather, Teddy, the one you’re named after. It’s good luck.”
The boy didn’t want to question his grandfather under such circumstances, but it was one of the traits the elder had instilled into him so he couldn’t help it.
“But grandpa, I thought you said luck was something you made for yourself.”
“That’s right, Teddy boy, in most cases it is. When most people say my lucky coin, rabbits foot, pair of socks, it’s nothing more than a superstition. But every once in a great while someone will hold on to something through the bad times. Through the times of blood, sweat, and tears, persevering on and knowing there are better days to come.
“That’s when the real luck is created, Teddy boy. And that’s why this lens is so lucky. My father was at his lowest point when his eyes began to fail him, having saved his whole life to open that first bookstore of his, only to have to use the money to take care of our family when the Great Depression hit, the only item he ever bought for himself after that being this simple magnifying glass so that he could spend his evenings after working a twelve hour day in the joyous company of a library book.
“Of course you know the rest of the story, that first family bookstore of ours finally opening in the 30s and eventually leading us to succeeding in our American dream.
“It was after those years of suffering, Teddy boy, suffering but never giving up hope did this lens gain its true power.”
Theodore now saw the magnifying glass in a new light, taking it from his grandfather and holding it up to look at with newfound respect. Leave it to grandpa to say goodbye with such an amazing story.
And now here Theodore was, over a half century later after having taken the family bookstore not only global but far beyond, digitally, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that what great grandpa had bestowed upon him on that long-ago day was as true as the breezes he still now felt blowing over him whenever he’d step outside to take in a breath of fresh air. This lucky lens, this priceless gift that has now seen, felt, absorbed within three generations of perseverance indeed held within it the luck that had provided such current lavish conditions.
The luck built on the human spirit prevailing through the human condition.
Tip jar with a purpose…