When my grandmother died, she died with the bang of a death rattle. All that gossip and noise she held onto for her eighty-seven years on earth just drizzled out of her like carbonation from a too tightly wound Coca-Cola bottle. My grandfather died by way of ambivalence. He went to hospice one evening and in the early morning when my father turned to get some ice water my grandfather folded all his cards. Total kaput.
It wasn’t long before they started popping up everywhere –– my grandmother more than my grandfather, of course. It was similar to the way my grandfather stayed silent at the dinner table as my grandmother passed the pasta and the meatballs and the bread around and before any of us could take a bite she would run through all of the ways something could potentially be wrong with the sauce or the meat or the salt ratio. Eventually my grandfather would put an end to the madness and say, “Marie.” Then we all ate in silence as a way to prove how delicious the meal really was.
These dimes started popping up in the washer and in the dryer and I knew it was my grandmother trying to signal something to me because I had been in distress recently. They began showing up in my shoes or found when I lifted the mattress to tuck in bedsheets. They appeared that one time in the wet of the stream after I had gotten into an quarrel over fabric strengths with my girlfriend. Or I’d be eating a bin of cherry tomatoes and there at the bottom of the carton was a dime.
I was lonesome without my grandparents and so I started asking for change in all dimes. Then I would go to the bodega and got sparkling water, an avocado, Ruffles, a six pack of Budweiser and paid for it in dimes. My friend Natalie made me a small ceramic bowl to keep all of my dimes in and then I had to ask her to make me twelve more. I couldn’t contain myself or my grandparents.
Soon I learned that coin collecting was the hobby of kings but I didn’t know what that made me if I only collected dimes. I hoarded my coins and got rid of all the tools in my home. Instead of screwdrivers I used the dimes. I baked my pies and I used dimes to weigh down the crust. Once when I had put an iteration of my grandparents into the oven at too high a temperature, I took the crust out and burnt my fingers on the metal. ‘Whew!’ my grandmother said. ‘A sorcher today!’ Then I placed her next to stack of card decks I always had ready for us.