StoryRhyme After Dark: Grandpa's Chess Set

Laura G. has sent us a story about loss that we can all relate to. When we lose someone dear to us, we keep our loved one alive with our memories of them. Sometimes a particular object will provide a connection to that person. After I lost my dad, many years ago, my mom gave me a couple of his belongings that she thought would have particular significance to me. She did this with all of us kids, selecting a special item or two for each of us. I still have the mementos of my father. I know exactly where they are and from time to time will go and look at them, hold them in my hand. For that moment, it brings my father directly into focus.

Laura's story is a very sweet, touching snapshot of the loss of a beloved husband, father and grandpa. It tells about the effect that he had on the lives of his family and the legacy he left behind. is proud to present a Laura G. story, "Grandpa's Chess Set."

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Visit Laura at and read “Lighting the Chanukah Lights with Emily,” also by Laura, in our StoryRhyme Originals section.

Grandpa's Chess Set
By Laura G.

When Eva’s grandfather died, her grandmother asked her what she wants to have of his. She said that she didn’t know. But just a few minutes later her mother and grandmother could hear her in the big closet opening and closing drawers and moving things from this side to that side. What was she looking for her grandmother and mother wondered, exchanging questioning looks.

“Grandma” she finally called out.

“Yes, dear,” her very, very sad grandmother replied.

“Where’s grandpa’s chess set?” Eva asked.

A look of surprise and pleasure momentarily flashed across Eva’s grandmother’s face.

“Grandpa taught me how to play chess, don’t you remember?” Eva said as her grandmother joined her in the closet looking through boxes that had been accumulating for almost fifty years in the apartment her mother had grown up in.

Eva’s grandmother didn’t remember that, but she was too sad to remember too much, but it still made her feel good that her granddaughter had such a lovely memory of her grandfather.

“I’m cold, Grandma,” Eva said as they continued looking for the very hidden chess set.

“Here take this,” Eva’s grandmother said handing a forest green and navy wool sweater to Eva, “it’s grandpa’s.”

Eva’s mother thought that Eva would not take the sweater, that she wouldn’t even want to touch it, but she surprised her mother. She took the sweater and put it on immediately. She made it her own by pushing the sleeves right up to the elbows like she always does, and like her mother always tells her not to because “you’re going to stretch out the sleeves.”

They didn’t find the chess set, but they did find a bag of chess pieces and a chess board. Eva’s grandma said that she’d continue looking for it later.

Eva took the bag and the board and put them in her suitcase.

Eva’s grandmother wanted to give grandpa’s forest green and navy blue silk robe to Eva’s sister, Dina, but Dina wouldn’t even touch it. Dina could still remember playing rummy with her grandfather that summer when he came to visit, she wasn’t ready to hold onto a piece of grandpa that wasn’t a part of her memory of him.

Sometimes Eva teases her little sister about all different things, but this time she didn’t. She asked her sister if she wants to play another game of backgammon; she had discovered the set when she was looking for the chess set and her mother taught them how to play.

And so the sisters sat for hours in their grandparent’s house playing backgammon as guests came to tell her grandmother and mother how much they had loved their grandfather. People had loved their grandfather because he was always kind and gentle. Eva and Dina didn’t need to hear that because they knew it. They had always loved to visit their grandparents because they always took them to museums and plays and concerts and Chinese restaurants. They had always treated

Eva and Dina as sophisticated young women, which always made them act that way even though sometimes they were so bored or were more in the mood to cry that they were tired or whine that their sister was bothering them.

When it was time to leave their grandparent’s house, Eva put the silk robe in her suitcase, she told her mother that she would hold it until Dina was ready to have it.

The two girls gave their grandmother a big big hug and they both told her that they love her and that they will miss grandpa. Both their mother and grandmother cried when they said that, but they knew that the girls had become as gentle and kind as their grandfather.

(c) 2009 Laura G.


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