My story, He's Still Taking Care of Us, appeared in the January, 2011 issue of True Story magazine as follows:
Grandpa was the kind of guy who was always taking care of everyone else. When he died, the director of the funeral home said that people had called all day for information about the funeral. Almost two hundred people came to pay their respects.
After the service, a friend told us that Grandpa had loaned him money when he was losing his business. A business client said that Grandpa had visited him in the hospital, and had paid part of the bill. They didn't have to convince us that Grandpa had a big heart. He'd loaned many family members money to get a start in life and he even set up trust funds to pay for his grandchildren's college educations.
If somebody didn't repay a loan, Grandpa didn't complain or get angry. He was just grateful to have made a difference in his loved ones' lives.
"I can't think of a better way to spend my money," he'd said.
His words came back to me when the recession hit. My husband and I both lose our jobs and we couldn't find new ones. A few months later, our daughter graduated from phlebotomy school and she couldn't find a job, either. The work world had become a buyer's market and few companies were hiring workers without experience. The worst part was that our daughter had gotten a three thousand dollar student loan to pay for training, but she had no way to earn money to repay it.
Month by month, my husband and I took what we could from our unemployment checks to pay the loan. We had little food and could only put ten dollars' worth of gas in our car's gas tank at a time. Although we sacrificed what we could, after a year our daughter still owed two thousand, five hundred dollars.
I figured that since I couldn't get a job, I might as well volunteer at the county probation department until the economy turned around. On my first day, the man training me told me about the California State Controller's website for unclaimed property.
Most people I knew wouldn't have money that they didn't know about. They need every penny. Then I remembered Grandpa. He always had money somewhere. He wasn't rich, just frugal. He didn't believe in using credit cards and as a young man, he'd sock away every penny for a rainy day.
I typed Grandpa's name into the website and an unclaimed amount of two thousand, five hundred dollars popped up. It was a refund due him from an insurance company. After filling out a claim form, we were able to pay off our daughter's loan. Grandpa wouldn't have wanted it spent any other way. I don't think it's a surprise to anyone who knew him that the guy with the big heart had come through for us once again.