My grandmother was an amazing artist. Now, by “artist” I don’t mean someone skilled in the visual or literary or creative arts, even though she was quite creative.
She frequently tried her hand at painting. In fact, the woman painted every piece of furniture she ever owned. With oil-based paint. Well, she painted every piece except one. For some reason, the antique wash stand I inherited escaped her brush.
She tried a little interior design over the years, too. No wall in her house was ever safe. Between my junior and senior years of high school, I spent part of the summer helping Grandmom paint the walls in her house peach. And my dad remembers frequently coming home after school to find all the furniture in the house completely rearranged.
So last month, when I brought the antique wash stand that had been in their home for decades to my new house in Florida, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to Grandmom if I painted it. With oil based paint.
I took a piece of the fabric from my den to the local Ace Hardware and picked out three colors: blue, green, and yellow. I brought the three quarts of paint home and began to work.
As I painted, I thought about Grandmom and how, coincidentally, those three colors each held a special memory about her. The blue, for instance, reminded me of the powder blue Ford Crown Victoria with the navy blue roof and vinyl seats that my grandparents drove for many years. I remember as a kid being thrilled to see that car pulling into the driveway. Or to see it pulling into the church parking lot and landing in a spot reserved for the senior citizens. I imagine that thrill will only ever be matched again in my life when I have my own grandchildren and happily watch them pull into my driveway.
The green reminded me of a four-poster bed in their house that I slept in when I spent the night. Of course, Grandmom had painted it that color.
And the yellow. A recurring conversation I had with Grandmom as I was growing up went something like this:
Grandmom: “What’s your favorite color?”
Me: “Purple.” Or “green.” Or “red.” (My favorite color changed like a mood ring). “What’s yours, Grandmom?”
Grandmom: “Well, I don’t really know because I like them all. But if I had to pick, I guess it would be yellow.”
Painting that wash stand brought back precious memories. While I painted, it dawned on me that, despite the fact that Grandmom wasn’t exactly the most talented visual artist, she created a life that was pretty dazzling. And that makes her a great artist in my book. I was proud to have chosen three colors that had a little meaning for her with which to paint the stand.
At least I was until the next morning when I walked to the World Famous Oasis for breakfast and realized I had also painted an antique wash stand the exact same colors as my favorite beach bar.
I’m going to throw the paint brush away. Even though I’m pretty sure Grandmom would love what I did with the antique.