As I pulled away from the bank, my tears surprised me. I’m probably the only guy in history who got emotional after closing my safe deposit box.
It used to be my grandma’s. After she passed away in 2002, I took it over. She opened it at a bank she’d been using for years. That bank closed after she passed away and a bank across the street took it, and her safe deposit box, over.
At her new bank, her box had a P (the first initial of the old bank) in front of the box number to differentiate it from all the other boxes. I liked that. It made me feel a connection to her, even though her bank was gone.
And the box required a different colored key than their other boxes. I liked that too. Every time I got into the box, I had to remind them that they needed to use a different key because this box was from the bank that used to be across the street – where a Walgreens now stood, which, by the way, will never look right to me.
Inside the box, Grandma had an envelope full of birth and death certificates from our family, as well as purchase agreements to a house that is no longer in the family, Grandma's funeral agreement and receipt for the lot in the cemetery she wanted to be buried in, receipts for various purchases and more. Back in the day, she had kept savings bonds in there that she and my grandfather worked so hard to buy.
After she passed, I put other family keepsakes in the box. But the problem was, I hadn’t been in the box since 2014. And the bank kept raising the price. And it was on the other side of town from where I'd moved a couple of years ago. So I decided to close the box. But I wasn’t prepared to get emotional over it.
I blame it on the bank representative who helped me close the box. When she learned that the box was from across the street, she wanted to know more.
I told her why it meant so much to me. And then she told me that her grandfather died in 2006. He raised her. And she still misses him so much.
As she was filling out the paperwork to close my box, I saw the original form my grandma signed when she opened it.
“Can I see that?” I asked.
I snapped a picture of it. That was her signature, all right. It was sure and steady, unlike when she got older and had a hard time signing anything without her hand shaking. It reminded me of how strong she used to be. And that reminded me of how she’d been the glue of the family for so many years, especially after her husband passed away.
Driving home with tears in my eyes, I was grateful for the banker's sensitivity. And I was also hyper-aware of what it feels like to be human – to feel something on a deep level, even though I was alone in my vehicle, surrounded by traffic. I'd been privy to a moment that connected the generations, and even though it was an end of an era, it still felt good.