My grandfather, who moved to the United States from Holland when my mother was just a child, had some interesting habits. One of them, apparently, was to keep several gold bars which he buried somewhere on his property. Now and then he would move them from place to place. He grew up in Europe during troubled times—lived there through (and was involved in) both World Wars—so I don’t think keeping this sort of cache is particularly odd for him. However, it makes for a fascinating story, as does the fact that after his death, the bars were never found despite the use of a metal detector around his property. They could be there still (it wasn’t a particularly small property—we’re talking rural Vermont, and his home included a pond and an apple orchard), or maybe he sold them at some point in order to buy items from the companies that kept trying to convince him he’d ‘already won’ this or that sweepstakes. (He was a brilliant man, but that was one of his quirks as he aged—he was very prone to believing those claims.) Regardless of what happened to those bars, it makes a great set-up for any number of stories.
Your story could start with the new family that buys the property and eventually finds Opa’s cache of gold bars. It could center around what he did with those gold bars and why they aren’t on the property any more. It could center around the last years of a fascinating man’s life—the kind of man who would bury gold bars on his property yet fall prey to sweepstakes scams as he passed into his nineties.
By the way, here’s another cool detail about my grandfather: he’s the Dr. Jacobus Rinse mentioned in this article. He was indeed diagnosed with heart troubles in his 50s such that he was given little time to live, and, in a move that was far ahead of his time, he went on to perform research on such things as cholesterol and trans-fats that led him to develop a breakfast formula that helped people worldwide. After that diagnosis he lived to be 94, and even then he died not of natural causes, but when he attempted to save the life of a younger friend who started to drown while swimming in the pond on his property. Right until the end he was walking his own dog and chopping firewood.
So today, write about a grandparent, or someone old enough to be a grandparent. We so often think of the elderly as not terribly interesting, when the exact opposite is true: these are people who’ve lived terribly rich lives and have abundant stories to tell. Try to write a short story that hints at these stories through details (such as the moving gold cache and entering every sweepstakes) without spelling out the person’s history. You might even tell the story through the eyes of that family who subsequently moved into the old man’s house, creating an image of a man without his direct presence.
You can use my grandfather’s details as the basis for your story, use a relative of your own, or make up a fictional character.
Edited to add: I happened to find a brief tale of gold that made me think of this.