Al and I flew to California for a big gala event at which Cal Thomas was invited to speak.
Cal Thomas is a columnist and author syndicated in over 550 newspapers and is heard on more than 300 radio stations.
Our daughter heads up this event and the front row seats are reserved for us. It is important we look our best and make our daughter proud.
Just one day before the event, we were having dinner and I looked at Al. He was missing his front tooth.
I asked him, “Where is your tooth?”
“I don’t know.” He looked around.
“Al, you ate your tooth.”
“I guess I did.”
“What are you going to do? You can’t smile.”
My daughter, Cricket, said, “Why does it always happen to Daddy? The best we do, we always look like the Beverly Hillbillies with the rocking chair on top.”
“I know,” I said, thinking how fitting her statement was, considering how we arrived in California a few days earlier. Al had taken advantage of the airline’s offer: suitcases fly free. This meant no restrictions on Al and all he could carry, unless he wanted to pay for the extra.
Not only that, Al and our son-in-law hit a few garage sales earlier in the week.
I told them both, “If it doesn’t fit, don’t get.”
Did they hear me? No. They came home with a whole car load of stuff.
“The man said he was getting rid of it and I could have it for free.”
“But Al, we can only carry a certain amount on the plane.”
“I got this brand new large suitcase for two dollars; I’ll put all the stuff in it.”
“Why did you bring home all those screws? You have a 55-gallon bucket of screws at home.”
“I got them with the plastic cases. They were free.”
“But the weight?”
“They don’t weigh that much and I am going to put them in our garage sale next spring.”
“You are taking home garage sale stuff to put in a garage sale next year?”
“I couldn’t pass it up.”
Back to the tooth!
I looked around. I didn’t bring everything I owned. I left my paints in Pagosa, now I needed them.
“I will fix it up. Al, give me your partial plate.”
“I’ll just go without my teeth. I can’t go with that big gap.”
“Al, it will look worse without your teeth.”
“Yes, Daddy, you can’t go without your teeth. Maybe I can take it to a dentist tomorrow.”
“We don’t have time, the dinner is tomorrow night. Hand me your teeth, Honey.”
Al cleaned his partial plate and handed it to me. “What about White Out?” I asked.
“Better still, I’ve got white French nail polish; I paint the tips of my fingernails.” Cricket said.
“No, no, no. That won’t look good.” Al resisted.
“Trust me. Get me the French nail polish.”
I had Al’s partial plate in my hand; I wasn’t going to give his teeth back until I had them fixed. “It’s got a pearl finish. It will be perfect.”
I went to work. “If I had a little Plaster Paris, Bondo or a little wood filler, I could make you a tooth and I could Superglue it to your partial plate.”
I looked at Al. He was devastated.
“Just kidding, I am just going to paint a little tooth on your partial plate; no one will be the wiser.”
“Betty, that’s ten-thousand dollars worth of dental work you have in your hand. Don’t play with it.”
“No problem, Honey. I’m an artist; I know what I am doing. You will just need to smile with your mouth shut. I’ll have you fixed up in a minute.”
“OK, let me look at them,” I said as I handed them back to Al. “Good as new, and it was free.”
The day of the gala event, Al visited the neighbor. The neighbor was pulling out wild blackberry bushes and gave a bunch to Al to take back to Pagosa.
Al was smiling all the way home. “Look what I got. The man was getting rid of them. I need to put some water in them.”
Ten minutes later, Al walked in the door, with an inch gash on his head.
“Al you are bleeding. Let me fix it.”
Al looked at the big white bandage and said, “That looks terrible.”
“If I had my paints, I could paint a flower on it or camouflage it some way. You’ll just have to go this way.”
I looked over at Al at the banquet. He gave me a big smile and a wink, showing his fake tooth and the white bandage riding on his head.
I looked at him, shook my head and thought, “God loves you. I love you too. I wouldn’t have missed that wink and smile in this moment for anything.”
Final brushstroke: Free is not always the best way to go, but sometimes it is our only way if we don’t want to miss the moment. Good thing an artist is in the house.