“Why don’t you trust me?” the old man stormed,

My savings held tight in his fist,

All that I had earned this summer,

And it all came down to this;

That money’s mine! I shouted back

I EARNED it all myself!”

Yeah ‘n never paid no room or board”

the old man scoffed–himself

a freeloader of my own ma,

HE never paid no rent,

and every cent my mother made,

the old man quickly spent;

I’m just a-borrowin’ it a while”

Whined the old man with a grin,

Stuffing the money into his pants,

to go buy a fifth of gin.

I knew my cash was good as gone,

the old man could not be trusted,

My only hope was he’d break the law

and get put in the pokey, busted.

Just then my ma walked in the door,

and sized up the situation,

Give the kid his money back”

she said without  inflection.

Aw, shit” the old man grumbled but

returned it, his face sinking,

“He ain’t so bad” she said to me,

When he ain’t been drinking

But to take his grandson’s hard-earned cash–

I wonder what he’s thinking?”

“It’s all about the booze” I cried,

There’s nothing else that matters–

as long as he has smokes and booze,

our lives can stay in tatters”

But later, ma came to sit by me,

She said “He wasn’t always this way–“

“When he had a job and could earn his keep….

and then your grandma passed away–

But do you remember, years ago,

He built a tree-house for you?

And he would sit and read you books,

And didn’t you beg him to?

He’d take you fishing when you were

hardly more than three or four–

and he’d take you with him always,

down to the grocery store–

He bought you your first bicycle–

and taught you how to ride it…

He’d sit you up on the bicycle seat,

and he would run, along side it–

I trust you will, someday, recall,

things your memory has in store,

When your grandpa goes away

and isn’t living anymore…”

What?” I asked “Should I give him

all this money and I’ve earned it–

just so he can buy more booze–

I might as well just burn it!”

“No,” she said “I don’t mean that–

but lack of trust runs deep–

You have to give it to get it back,

with everyone you meet…”


I can’t say it happened overnight,

But my mother’s words ran deep,

I heard them often through the day

and often even in my sleep.

I tried to give grandpa my time,

I saw and talked with him each day,

I’d walk down to the store with him

or we’d go to church to pray.

I trusted him; he trusted me,

It turned our lives around,

And time came when I really cried

On the day my grandpa died.


Sandra Lee Smith

Originally written March 7, 2012

Updated August 31, 2018


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