Mrs. Jenkins’ mother had passed away a week ago, and now the Jenkins children had no grandparents at all. “We’re both orphans now,” Mrs. Jenkins whispered to her husband at the funeral. He nodded and they both cried.
Three weeks later, the Jenkins family poked around an antique shop half-heartedly. They’d planned this vacation hoping that it would cheer everyone up after the funeral. Instead, they all seemed to be performing the motions of playing tourist while lacking any interest at all in what they were seeing.
“Well, I don’t see anything,” Mr. Jenkins said. “Who wants to go back to the beach?”
“Not me,” Cameron said. “It’s too sunny and sandy and windy and loud.”
“Why did we come here anyway?” Daniel asked. “We aren’t having any fun.”
“Hush,” Mr. Jenkins said. “Of course we are.”
“I’m not,” Cameron said. “I want to go home.”
Mr. Jenkins opened his mouth to reply, but he didn’t know what to say. He wanted to go home, too. Not just to their snug little home in a little town at the edge of a big city. He wanted to go back to his childhood home. It felt like everything should be in its place, just as it existed in his memory, but he knew that it was all gone. He sighed.
“Hey, everybody, come look at what I found,” Mrs. Jenkins said just then. The boys followed their father to the back of the store where Mrs. Jenkins was waiting.
“What is it?” Cameron asked.
Mrs. Jenkins was standing in front of what looked like a dusty metal statue. She smiled. “It’s a robot. The really old kind like my parents had when I was little.”
“That’s a robot?” Daniel asked. “It’s so big and weird looking. Does it even work?”
“The tag says that it doesn’t function well. It needs a good home,” Mrs. Jenkins said. “What do you think?’
“Well, it probably won’t take up much space,” Mr. Jenkins said. “What do you think boys? Should we add him to our family?”
“It’s a him?” Cameron asked. He looked up at the robot. “I guess it does look like it has a funny mustache. Grandpa had a mustache. I remember.”
Daniel squinted. “I don’t remember Grandpa. He had a mustache?”
“I want it,” Cameron said. “We can call him Grandpa.”
“Yeah, let’s get it,” Daniel said.
The Jenkins family left the antique shop with an old robot and smiles on their faces. It didn’t take long for the robot to become one of the family. Everyday he slowly shuffled from one room to the next performing small tasks. Everyone smiled and patted his arm when they saw him. “Hi, Grandpa,” they’d say. “How are you today?”
The robot hummed and coughed in response and they would nod and smile. Sometimes he came to a halt in front of the back window and just sat and stared. Mrs. Jenkins left a blanket on the chair by the window, and whoever was closest would put it over his shoulders.
Cameron made a birdfeeder at school that he hung outside the window so that the robot could watch the birds when he was at the window. He and Daniel loved to share all of their art projects with the robot. The robot would always accept them and hang them on the walls like treasures.
They also liked to practice their instruments when the robot was around. He often recorded their performance to play back later at a random time. “Grandpa loves us,” Daniel said once. “That’s why he likes to remember what we play for him.”
“I think he must,” Mrs. Jenkins said. “And we love him, too.”
“Of course we do,” Daniel said. “He’s Grandpa.”