For years, Clem’s grandmother had gifted her little plastic sheep for her birthday. At first, she chalked it up to her grandmother’s memory declining with age. But little did she know that hidden messages in each plastic sheep would offer her great opportunities for her future.
I am the youngest in my family — a little sister to two older brothers well into their thirties. Despite being showered with love from my parents and brothers, one person always reminded me that she loved me unconditionally — my grandma.
As the day ended on my 19th birthday, Grandma did her usual shuffle over to me, a little box in her hand. I already knew that it was another plastic sheep.
For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why my grandmother gave me plastic sheep on my birthday. But she had done so since my 7th birthday, and it had become a tradition.
Grandmother and granddaughter | Source: Pexels
I would always act surprised when I opened the box, ready to see another little sheep with a different colored bell around its neck.
But little did I know, there was a hidden message inside each sheep — Grandma had been weaving a secret for me since I was a child.
But my grandma was old, and we all knew her time on earth was nearing. When she passed on, I was devastated.
“At least Grandma will live on in you,” my mother said as she mourned her mother. “We named you after Grandma Clementine because I knew that as much as you were a gift to Dad and me, you were a gift to her too.”
On my 20th birthday, my mom gave me a little box with another sheep.
“Grandma gave me this before she passed away,” Mom said. “She said that it was the last one.”
I looked at the little plastic sheep and cried my eyes out. I deserted my little birthday party, leaving my brother’s children to devour the birthday cake, and returned to my room.
Birthday cake with candles | Source: Unsplash
Carefully, I placed the new sheep on a shelf above my bed with the others. I used to wonder whether my grandmother had a memory problem, which is why she gave me a sheep year after year. But now, looking at them was the most comforting thing I could have asked for.
“Clem?” my older brother called from the doorway, taking a step into my room.
“I miss her,” I said. “Even if I did think she was bizarre for the plastic sheep.”
“So you haven’t figured it out yet?” Sheldon asked with a knowing smile.
I shook my head.
“Look underneath the sheep,” he said.
With confusion, I turned it around and read the printed message beneath the sheep.
I love you, followed by a number. And another number beneath one of the legs, keeping the order of the sheep.
It seemed like a code or something similar, but I still needed clarification.
“You really don’t get it, do you?” Sheldon grinned.
“Get what?” I asked, genuinely puzzled.
“Check out the last one, and then take the numbers down in order. Come on, Clem,” my brother said, winking before he rejoined the party in the living room.
Go to the bank, Clem, was the final message.
Toy plastic sheep | Source: Pixabay
I arranged the numbers in the order of the years my grandmother had gifted me the sheep. A bank account number emerged from the underbellies of the sheep.
The following day, I went to the bank I knew my grandmother had dealt with. To my astonishment, I discovered that Grandma had set up a bank account for me at birth, depositing money yearly.
Over $120000 awaited me.
“Ma’am,” the consultant said. “There’s more. Your grandmother had a safety deposit box also in your name. I’ll give you access to it now.”
After a bit of a wait, the banker brought me the box. Inside, there was a handwritten letter from my grandmother.
You figured it out! Forgive this old lady for playing with you in this way, but I love you so much. So, I had to make sure that you were set for life and do it this way so that no one would take the money from you.
If I’m still around, come over for tea, honey.
I love you.
Tears flowed freely as the weight of her love sank in.
Safety deposit boxes | Source: Pixabay
Armed with the letter in my handbag, a bouquet of flowers, and a flask of tea, I made my way over to Gran’s final resting place.
The cemetery was bathed in the soft glow of the setting sun. Even the flowers looked happy to be among the dead. I placed the flowers at Grandma’s grave and poured her a cup of tea from the flask.
I added two spoons of sugar, just like Grandma always did. Sitting there, I sipped the tea, feeling her presence.
“Thank you, Nan,” I said. “You’ve opened the door to my dream college. I’ll always make you proud. You’ve loved me more than anyone else.”
I sat there until my grandmother’s cup of tea went cold, feeling her presence as I poured my heart out to her, sharing how much she was missing.
Person laying flowers at a grave | Source: Pexels
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