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Lincoln Continental

You are never too old to be silly, don’t take for granted the feel good moments, and it’s ok to slow down and appreciate the finer things in life, like a Lincoln Continental.

I’d gather an assortment of my favorite fingernail polishes and line them up neatly near the sliding glass doors with the best sunlight. I grinned with growing anticipation as I listened for the whistle in the next room to turn to lyrics. My giggles were equivalent to an auditorium of applause encouraging his theatrical antics that always kept me guessing. It was a game to enter the room as if we were the most famous on the red carpet and greeting our adoring fans, which in a way, nothing could be truer.

Just as a high quality production dims the light, he would pause, allowing time to glance at each doorway, keen for movement to focus on. More giggles encouraged a finger to curl around the doorframe with a little wave, or the toe of a boot but at the top, something logistically impossible to reach if the boot was indeed on a foot. Anything could serve as a prop, the more silly, the better, and it was always unexpected. For example a golf club could peak slowly through the doorway and give a wave before tapping the beat to the song Grandpa was already singing from around the corner.

This is when I recognized the importance and versatility of a cowboy hat. A hat is just a hat, but can be rather powerful or perhaps it’s the curiosity that the two created. The perfect combination of a great man and the right cowboy hat could stop traffic, I’ve seen it happen, more than once. Grandpa didn’t go anywhere without his hat, it was like another part of him, more like a tool than an accessory.

Regardless of his entrance, I always squealed and clapped with approval. Sometimes he would extend his hand or tip his hat as an invitation to join him to share my own interpretive dance moves. It probably was a lot of hand clapping and jumping up and down on my part, but I don’t recall a better memory. He would spin me into a dip with perfect timing to the end of the ditty.

His green eyed wink made me feel like a princess.

Properly out of breath because of our antics we would settle in for painting my nails. We would discuss the assortment of colors, and I don’t know how he did it, but he could pick the same color I did, every time! He wouldn’t rush painting my teeny fingernails and never got pulled away to do another task. If someone called or stopped in, he made sure that they knew he was spending his time with me, and that made Him the lucky one.

Without fail he would ask if I would like a car that color, not any car, but the finest car, a Lincoln Continental. I would listen intently on what it was that made it truly the finest car ever made. He would speak friends of his that had one and what color it was. It was clear that if you wanted to be successful and respected, there was no other car for you. I picked up on how his eye’s sparkled when he talked about cars, especially this one. Anything that would make a man’s eyes that happy was important to know about. I think that’s what made me be a bit of a gearhead girl.

He had the best stories of hitting the road with friends, the pack of them would hop on a plane to Vegas, or can you believe it, they flew to the Moon! Fondly he spoke of his buddy Holly, Frankie with blue eyes, and Richie, he was little for some reason that I don’t recall. I was wide eyed and impressed with these extravagant tales of their travels. If you didn’t know him, you would think he made it all up, especially when he mentioned a real King, he said the name Cole or it could have been Elvis too. I believed every one of those stories, up until I put two and two together about the “rat pack” and my Grandpa’s name had been left out. You got me Grandpa!

I still have all those vinyl records he would play back then, even added a few of my own. When nobody is looking I may dance like a 5 year old and it’s still a sore spot to me that we didn’t get a chance to find the perfect Lincoln together. I am thankful for these memories and I know I am sharing them for a reason. Don’t underestimate the influence you have on another soul, even when you don’t realize it.

Forty years later, I see a Lincoln Continental on the road or in a driveway and think “that’s a damn fine car” as suddenly need a little Sinatra in my life. You may see an old car of yester-year, but I see more than that and it makes me smile. I hope the same for you my friend.

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