“Roco, wait! Roco, come here!” ran Johnny after his dog, whistling.
He had gone to the cemetery to visit his late wife Eva’s grave to commemorate the fifth anniversary of her death. He still felt as if her departure had happened yesterday.
“If I hadn’t asked you to run to the store that day…,” he often blamed himself for her death.
Eva died in a car accident on her way to the store, and Johnny still couldn’t get the tragedy that robbed him of his wife out of his mind.
He placed her favorite flowers on her grave and wept silently. Then he looked around and saw that his dog was gone. Roco usually huddled near the grave until the mourning was over, but that day, something under a headstone, had caught his pet’s attention.
Johnny looked for Roco and heard a strange noise several feet away. It was the dog impatiently digging a spot near a headstone.
“Roco… Stop! Roco… what are you doing?” Johnny ran to the spot where his dog had dug a mound of dirt.
“Roco, back up…. come here.” Johnny put the leash on Roco and walked over to inspect what the dog had done.
“What’s that?” he wondered after seeing a shiny metal object. He picked up a stick and pulled the thing out. It was a metal box with a small lock on it. Johnny lifted the box and shook it close to his ear. The heavy box made a sound.
“What’s inside this thing?” wondered Johnny.
He took a small stone and broke the lock. He opened the box and found diamonds and gold jewelry. Johnny couldn’t believe his eyes and wondered why someone would leave their expensive jewelry in the cemetery. Underneath the jewelry was a small old diary that caught his attention.
Johnny picked up the diary and began to read, only to realize that the articles belonged to a woman named Grace.
“Who is this Grace, and why did she bury her jewelry here?”.
Johnny flipped the journal over and discovered that most of the front pages were torn out. There were still a few pages left, so he began to read….
“My daughter promised to take care of me after my husband Theodore died. I believed her and moved in with her in her house,” were the first few lines. Johnny knelt down and read on.
“The first few months were perfect. I had no doubts. But when I told her of my intention to move back into my house, she told me she had sold it. I was shocked. I remember my daughter asking me to sign some papers for my pension. I already had bad eyesight, so I blindly believed her and signed. I had no idea that those were the papers for my house.”
Grace’s daughter, Maria, had taken her entire pension and sold her house. She promised to take care of her mother, but when Grace found out what she had done, Maria decided to leave her mother in a nursing home.
“My daughter took everything from me, and this jewelry is the only possession I have. They were my late grandmother’s. I didn’t want Maria to have them, so I buried them near my husband’s grave. I will be coming to get them back soon.”
Johnny saw that the date on the last page of the diary was three years ago. He wondered what had happened to Grace and why she hadn’t gone to pick up her jewelry. He looked for the address of the nursing home in the diary, but it was missing.
“How am I going to find it?” He was puzzled when he suddenly looked up at the tombstone in front of him. It said Teodoro Saavedra. “Her husband’s name was Teodoro? So her name is Grace Saavedra? I’ll find you, Grace Saavedra!”.
A few days later, a caregiver at the nursing home approached Grace, 89, and told her she had a visitor.
“Has someone come to see me?”, Grace was surprised.
“Yes, he said he knows you.”
Grace had assumed her daughter had come, but when she learned it was a man, she was confused and curious to know who it was.
A few minutes later, Johnny walked into Grace’s room, tears blurring his eyes as soon as he saw her.
“Mrs. Grace Saavedra?” he called out to her.
Grace turned around and tears flooded her eyes when she saw the metal box in Johnny’s hands. She recognized it immediately.
“How…how did you find that? Who are you?” she cried.
Johnny told her that he found the box near the late Theodore’s grave during his last visit to his wife’s grave a week earlier.
“Thanks to my dog! And I didn’t know how to find you until I saw your late husband’s name on his grave. I figured you might be ‘Grace Saavedra’ and visited every nursing home in town, looking for you…and I’m glad I finally found you here.”
Grace grabbed Johnny’s arms and cried.
“Thank you so much, son…. You have no idea what you did! These jewels belonged to my grandmother, and I was trying to save them from my greedy daughter.”
“I know, Grace… I read your diary!”
Johnny returned the jewelry box to Grace and promised to go get her soon. A few days later, he returned with the necessary paperwork to take Grace home.
She was thrilled to move in with Johnny, but her daughter Maria stopped her.
Maria was constantly in communication with a worker at the nursing home to make sure her mother never left and to update her on any visitors and her mother’s well-being. She had learned from that worker that someone had come for her mother.
“You can’t take my mother away from here. I put her here and she stays where I want her to,” Maria said angrily to Johnny.
But to Maria’s surprise, Grace stood firm against her and defended the kind man.
“It is my wish to live with whomever I want! You failed me as my daughter, then God sent me a son! I may not have given birth to him, but he knows how to respect and love a mother!”.
Grace then moved in with Johnny while Maria was forced to accept defeat, having no idea of the jewels Grace had successfully hidden from her.