Jason remembered how his foot had tingled when it went to sleep that night as he stood motionless by the kitchen door, listening. The big folks were in the living room, discussing Grandpa! Mom had sent him off to watch TV, but when he went to get a drink, he couldn’t help overhearing them. Then he just stayed there.
There was no mistaking Aunt Madge’s high-pitched, nervous voice. She always seemed to talk too fast. She and Uncle Bill had flown in from Texas the day before Grandma’s funeral. Jason could hear Aunt Madge say that there was no way that Grandpa could live alone now that Grandma wasn’t there to take care of him. And that it was impossible for him to live at their house.
Aunt Edith said that she was sorry, but she didn’t have room for him in her little apartment. Aunt Sherma and Uncle Dick traveled a lot; besides, Aunt Sherma said, they just didn’t have an extra bedroom either.
Jason’s mom had spoken up quickly. “We can move the TV into the living room and give Grandpa the TV room. We’d be happy to have him live here with us.”
Jason was delighted!
Grandpa moved in with them at the first of the year. It had been hard for him to leave his home. The movers brought his bed and dresser, a lounge chair, and some boxes of his personal things, but that was all.
He and Jason soon became good buddies. Grandpa was a great storyteller, and Jason loved to listen to his stories. Grandpa talked a lot about his boyhood, the time he’d spent overseas during the war, the early days of his law practice, and the years that he sat behind a big podium as a judge in a black robe. But he was old and frail now, and it was hard for Jason to picture him as a little boy, a soldier, a lawyer, or a judge.
Grandpa helped fill the empty spot in Jason’s heart. Jason had never known his own father—he’d been only two at the time of the car accident. “Did Daddy look like me when he was six?” he asked Grandpa one day.
“You’re a dead-ringer for my Joe when he was your age,” Grandpa told him. “Your dad’s hair was darker than yours, but he had your same nose and that same cleft in his chin.” Grandpa smiled and started talking about all four of his children—Madge and Edith and Sherma and Joe.
Later Jason pushed Grandpa’s wheelchair out onto the front porch to try to escape the hot, humid house. The cool, fresh breezes from the sycamores brought a refreshing change. Jason threw his leg across the brick-bordered porch, pulled a leaf from the lilac tree, folded it, and put it to his lips. As he blew softly, out came a low, clear whistle.
Grandpa smiled, remembering the leaf whistles Jason’s dad had blown in his childhood days. Then Grandpa seemed caught up in a special memory, and his thoughts began to tumble out.
“I remember a time your daddy came home from school with a big problem. Your grandma told me that he’d gone to his room after he got home, and he just stayed there till suppertime. I noticed how quiet he was when we sat down at the table to eat, so I persuaded him to take a walk with me afterward, and he finally blurted out what was bothering him.
“It seems he’d had an argument on the playground at school with his best friend, Jimmy. Joe’d become so angry that he’d hit Jimmy and made his nose bleed. Then Joe had walked away and come home. Now he felt sorry for what he’d done, but he couldn’t face Jimmy and apologize. Joe had too much pride—but he didn’t feel good about himself, either.
“Then I thought of my treasure—a seashell that I’d brought home with me from the war,” Grandpa went on. “I’d found it on the beach where we landed late one night. As I held it to my ear, it seemed to speak to me. I kept it because the sound of the sea seemed to whisper in my ear. It reminded me of the still, small voice inside me trying to keep me on the right path.
“I hadn’t thought of my seashell for years, but after our walk together that night, I looked for it. I handed the seashell to your daddy and told him to listen to it. When he placed it near his ear, I told him that it was a reminder of the still, small voice of conscience that each of us has within us. Then I asked him what the small voice would tell him about asking forgiveness.
“Your dad sat on the bed next to me. ‘I can’t say I’m sorry,’ he cried. ‘I just can’t!’
“I told him that he must apologize if his friendship with Jimmy was worth keeping and if he wanted to be at peace with Heavenly Father and with himself.
“It was hard for Joe to go to Jimmy and ask for forgiveness,” Grandpa went on, “but he finally listened to his conscience and patched up the hurt feelings.
“I kept the seashell on my desk for a long time afterward,” Grandpa told Jason. “Having to say that he was sorry was a particularly difficult lesson for your dad to learn. It was hard for him to admit his mistakes, just as it is for you and me. He had some stubbornness to overcome. I often reminded him of the seashell and invited him to listen to its voice. It helped him remember to listen to the still, small voice inside himself that was always there. As we grow up, we are constantly faced with choices to make, and seeing the seashell reminded Joe to listen to his conscience and choose the better way. And that is why I consider the seashell a treasure.”
Grandpa stopped, then said, “If you’d like to see the seashell, I still have it. Would you go get the brown shoe box in the back corner of my bottom dresser drawer, please?”
Jason returned a few moments later with the shoe box. Grandpa opened it and took out a small white and coral seashell, beautifully formed and with black and gray striations. “I want you to have this, Jason,” he said, placing it in Jason’s hands. “If you listen to it often, it will help you remember another Voice that is always there to guide you and help you make right decisions.”
Jason placed the seashell next to his ear and listened for a moment. “Thank you, Grandpa, for telling me about Dad,” he said softly. “And thank you for sharing your treasure with me. It will always remind me of the Holy Ghost, Dad, and you.”