Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cashing in

This morning I went to the bank to cash in savings bonds from my dad's estate to pay for our trip to Poland in August. Naturally the transaction took some time. (I was glad I wasn't behind myself in line.) Purchased by my dad in the early 1980s, the bonds earned 7.5 percent interest. They were worth not quite twice their face value; my dad had paid half the face value. He bought them for his retirement. I think he was 65; he died at age 69. So they now send his granddaughter, whom he missed meeting by three weeks, and me to Poland to see where he grew up and to meet my ciocia Helen, his only remaining sister.

He went back once to visit, in 1966. I remember the cheeses he brought back, which were confiscated at customs. I remember them, however, because they made his suitcase smell horrible. Dad's stinky cheeses passed into family lore. The following year he had another of his episodic breakdowns. That, too, I remember. I fantasize that I will understand his illness better when I go to Poland.

The return on the bonds makes me, for the purpose of this trip anyway, a rich American. I won't have to worry about money. I thought that time and interest had done the work of giving the bonds value. But it was my dad who did the work. I have received a gift from him, long after he died.

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