Artist’s Lane: Granddad goes to Vegas

By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist
How will Grandma keep Granddad down on the farm once he sees Sin City?
My Sweet Al was ecstatic to be invited to the NASCAR race in Las Vegas, Nev. He packed and re-packed for days as he prepared for his trip.
This would be an incredible opportunity to take a trip and spend time with our son-in-law and our grandsons. I wish I had a memory of having fun with my grandmother. I don’t ever remember laughing or having fun with her. Then again, that was a different time and age for me.
I said to Al, “Do you know what this trip means?”
“Yes, I’m going to the races. I get to see my man win. I want to stand by his car and have my picture taken.”
“No Al, it should be more than that. You are spending time with your grandsons. One day, they will carry this trip in their hearts as a memory of time shared with you.”
I should have wished his trip just included him standing next to his favorite race car. Not 24 hours into his trip, the pictures started flowing. The first picture to cross my desk was my Sweet Al and his grandsons, flanked by two showgirls from the strip.
There he was, beaming from ear to ear squeezed between two scantily clad women in headdress, short-shorts and really large … feathers. Even as they towered over him, there he stood, bigger than life.
When he arrived home, I asked, “Well, how did it go?”
“I sat and watched a woman play roulette for nearly four hours. She was beautiful and had big diamonds on her hands.”
“You were just captivated by her big diamonds?”
“Yes.” He said, “And all the old men were running around with younger women on their arms.”
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know anything more, but I had to ask, “What about the race?”
“Oh that. We got rained out the first day, so we just ate a lot. But when the race did start, it was really loud.“
“So did you bond with your grandsons?”
“Well, I guess I did. They pushed me around in a wheelchair from one casino to another so I could see everything.”
My Sweet Al shared story after story. Meanwhile, I wondered if anyone could peel back the layers of gambling, beautiful women and the bright lights of Las Vegas to see what truly lies within.
I decided I didn’t want to know anything more, but I was reminded just how much the noise of the world can crowd out the important things in life.
I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone knew what really goes on underneath the noise and exhaust at the racetrack. I reminded Al about a conversation we had the week before. We talked about a young man who found the one thing that was important to him amidst the scream of a 200-mph car and thousands of fans.
It was the first NASCAR race of the year. The Daytona 500 brimmed with excitement for the new season and with great expectancy for Anthony Pasut. He was a fueler on the pit crew for Chris Buescher’s team who had been in an accident the previous year.
An out-of-control car ran into Anthony and injured his right leg during a pit stop incident at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. His road back was a hard one. It took hours, weeks and even months of physical therapy just to be able to walk again, let alone to be fit enough to get back in to the pit.
His statement: “Sometimes we get so involved in our careers, we forget what is most important, to know who God is and His grace.” Back on his driver’s pit crew, now with a greater vision for life than just the single car that nearly ended it.
Final brushstroke: After a wild ride with his grandsons, my Sweet Al came home with a bigger vision of life. Even through the sights and sounds of that place, he was able to know the blessing that comes from the unique moments that shape us. Thankfully, that was all he took from his weekend away.
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This story was posted on March 23, 2020.