I love watching Antiques Roadshow on PBS. It’s amazing to me what people keep in their homes. Ugly lamps, god awful vases, knick-knack-brick-a-brack…you name it and there’s someone out there collecting it. But my favorite episodes are the ones where somebody brings in a garage sale find – a painting, say – that turns out to be an emerging work of so-and-so which is now worth $100,000. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to be as lucky as the guy who paid $45 for Ansel Adams negatives worth $200 million?

My mother found a painting nestled between boxes of china and unused racquetball rackets in her garage. She knew the artist personally and so, she had kept it safe – if forgotten – for over 20 years. Deciding she was ready to part with it, she had it framed and gave it to the OINKdaddy as a Father’s Day gift. Here it is:

Van Gogh? Hell, no.

This, dear readers, is acrylic paint on generic art paper. And it’s from my high school days.

I labored over this painting like none other. The assignment was to paint a famous photograph. The photo, by Eve Arnold, showed a Mongolian girl training a horse to lie down in battle. I was taken with this photo partly because I was a horse girl through and through, but mostly because my horse had to be put down.

My father met Vernon in the driveway when he came in the backhoe to dig the hole in our pasture. It was my father, not me, who led her emphysema-wracked frame to the edge of the grave. He was there to steady her when Freddy raised the gun to shoot. It was he, not I, who held back tears in front of the men.

I was touched that my mother had kept this painting all these years. “I just remembered how you loved that horse,” she told me. “We were all so sad when it was time for her to go.”

But, now, what to do with this painting? As a piece of my history, it’s priceless. As a piece of art, it sucks. I can’t throw it away but neither can I display it.

Fifty years from now, when Small, Medium and Large are cleaning out my effects, they are going to find this thing. They’ll say: “Hey, look at this! Think it’s worth anything?” Maybe they’ll take it to the Roadshow.

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