My whole life I’ve been a toy collector in one way or another. It started when I was a kid and continued into my adult years. Sometimes a toy is just a toy, but sometimes it can be a key to unlocking lost memories.

Not too long ago I made a choice to buy back a very specific toy from my childhood.

When I was little, my family moved from California to Kansas. My favorite toys were Transformers and Gobots. However, this particular toy came with some baggage.

When I was no more than four or five years old my dad travelled back to California to attend the funeral of his own father. As my dad ages I know that is a similar trek I will have to make someday. When he returned he gave me my first Gobot toy. It was much different than the Transformers I was used to. The car was made entirely out of die cast metal and had rubber tires. It was more like one of those metal race cars than it was a robot action figure.

I remember taking it with me everywhere. I took it to show-and-tell at school. I took it with me to the sandbox at the park. I even took it with me in the bathtub.

Like many other things from my childhood this particular toy didn’t survive my many moves as a kid. When I got back into toy collecting as an adult I avoided buying this one because the memory associated with my grandpa dying was a little hard to overcome. It felt like something I needed to leave buried in the past. With the recent passing of another grandpa I felt like it was time to revisit that memory.

As I opened the package and held the toy from my childhood I was reminded of the grandpa I never got to know. But more importantly I was reminded of my dad tending to his sons broken heart by bringing back something to help ease that pain. I never got to know Grandpa Owen, but at least I have a small thing to remember him by.

Sometimes a toy is more than a toy, it’s a tool that unlocks memories we might otherwise have forgotten.