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Faded paint does not mean faded memories

By Toni Bean
On February 9, 2014

When given the choice of the smell of a new car or that of an old one, which would you choose?
Most people would choose that of the new car.
However, I hold much fonder memories of an old car smell.
When I was a young girl, my grandfather owned a used car lot called Phillips and Robins Used Car Sales, located in Livingston, Tenn.
To this day, even though it has been around six years since that old lot was sold, I can still recall the smell of those used cars, the sun shining off the silver tin of the building and the husky voices of the male workers.
Although I remember all those things, they are not what I hold dear about the old lot; it is the picture painted on that silver tin that warms my soul.
I ran to my mom yelling, "Mommy, what is the picture that Pa has on his wall?"
She explained to me in a motherly manner, "It is you sweetheart."
My grandfather confirmed my mother's statement.
Portrayed in the painting was a young blonde girl in a red convertible with her hair blowing in the wind.
The vivid paint of the portrait was a contrast against the paint of the old cars in the lot and the plain gray tin of the building.
My grandfather and I had a very special relationship. Although he had other grandchildren, they didn't visit him often. I pursued every opportunity I received to see him.
My grandfather was the type of man who would give anyone the shirt off his back if they asked for it, whether they truly needed it or not.
Despite the adoration I displayed toward time with my grandfather, it was not the only reason I went to see him.
It was also the fact that my mom always insisted I visit him.
My mom was not Pa Howard's daughter, but his removed daughter-in-law.
Because of this, I never really understood the strange concept of my mother insisting I visit my grandfather.
Until the day my mom came home with tears in her eyes, looking as if she had seen a ghost. All my mother could say to me was, "I'm so sorry."
I didn't understand what was happening, and even worse, I really didn't understand what she was telling me sorry for.
After Mom said a few more, "I'm sorries," she finally explained to me that my Pa Howard was no longer with us.
Today, just as my mom insisted all those years ago, I was to visit my grandfather.
I make it a point to visit that old car lot. Although the lot has been sold, the painting is still on that old tin building, but it no longer projects the vivid color it once did.
The dazzling paint the portrait once had now has begun to fade away and blend with the outside of the tin.
When the colors of the painting were new, I was too young to realize it would soon hold a special place in my heart.
Every time I pass by the old lot and catch a glimpse of the faded colors, they now make me realize my grandfather will never truly be gone.
Because today,  as I appreciate the once vibrant colors, I know my grandfather left them behind for me. I can look at them whenever I want and know he is still here with me.

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