My Grandfather died before I was born, I never got to know him. By all accounts he was a hard working, frugal man. A bus driver and father of eight, my mother came somewhere towards the tailend of his offspring.
He never had much money, what he earned had to be shared among a lot of things, Apperently he was always good humoured. Always kind and as generous as his means allowed.
One summer his eldest boy returned from the States for a short visit home. His son, my Uncle George, hugged his father and passed him a box of cigarettes. My Grandad opened the box, took one out and made to return them.
My Uncle held up a hand. ‘It’s okay Dad,’ he said, ‘you can keep them.’
‘What?’ Grandad asked in confusion. ‘The whole box?’
‘Sure,’ George answered with a smile and more than a tinge of New York on his tongue. He reached into his pocket. ‘Here, why don’t you take another one too.’
My Grandad had rolled his own all of his life.
His son’s show of wealth broke him. He turned into a bitter, resentful man who guarded every ha’penny, every farthing.