I remember the car well. It was a deep blue, newly restored El Camino. I remember sitting in it, walking around it and hearing the v8 roar to life for the first time. I had always liked cars, but I was never a "car guy". It all started after I heard, "Do you want to go for a ride?". After the cruise down birmingham highway looking at the farms as we rumbled down the road I began my new life as a car enthusiast. Even at that young age, I knew there was something special about this car. It had flaws, but I soon realized that is what gave it character. As the years when on I began seeing cars as something special and not just a mode of transportation. The man I have to thank is Chip Grissom, my God-Father.
I grew up watching Chip restore cars and bringing them back to his farm. I remember the excitement driving from Atlanta up to the farm waiting to see the new car. As the years went on the excitement never faded. The last new (newly restored) car I saw was this beautiful Ford Bronco. My eyes lit up when I saw it. For the first time I was asked, "do you want to drive". I was 18 and entrusted in keeping this flawless work of art safe on the road. I didn't even have to think about my answer. I remember turning the key and listening to the crate v8 fire up. It was more than I could ever have dreamed. I drove this car multiple more times before writing this and I cherished every moment. If I went to drive it today, it wouldn't be the same. Chip Grissom was like a second father. If anything was broken, he could fix it. There was nothing this man couldn't do. On the weekdays he was the president of a major company, and on the weekend he tended to his farm. He was the essence of cool to me. A few days ago he passed away.
I know this article might be boring to the regular reader but I would like to leave my thoughts to Chip here:
You forever changed my life. You gave me the love of cars which has helped me through a lot. When I was in the hospital for 4 days after being diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, I had cars. When I had struggles in life that immobilized me, I had cars. When I had relationship issues, I had cars. The enthusiasm for cars has gotten me through the rough times in my life. Not only did I have cars, but I had you. You weren't the person who helped me up when I fell, but the man who pulled me up and showed me how to take life life by the balls. When I tried to start a mobile car washing business, you were my first customer. It was a bad idea, but you wanted to make me learn how to succeed and bounce back from my mistakes. When I was little and had bad anxiety you made a bed for me at the foot of your bed and sat in the chair next to me till I fell asleep. I can't thank you enough for all you have done.
To finish this article I wanted to go back to what I said earlier, "If I went to drive it today, it wouldn't be the same". It wouldn't be the same because you wouldn't be there to hand me the keys. Thank you Chip.