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anne_mikolay_120On a humid afternoon last week, I looked at the dilapidated shed in my yard, and resolved it had to go! The shaky structure surely would not survive another winter; it would be best to knock it down before a Nor easter blew it into a neighbor's yard. First, however, the contents of the shed had to be removed.

Hardly a pleasant task. Want to become instantly depressed? Start discarding your teenagers' childhood toys - their Fisher Price basketball hoop, their bicycles, their super-soakers, and their race car....THE race car.

My sons were thrilled on that long ago day when their Grandpa gave them the race car. The sleek, black, pedal driven car with the yellow stripes down the side quickly became their favorite toy. Even though they had a Fisher Price motorized jeep, it was the race car they fought over.  Maybe because it was different; none of their friends had a race car like that. Or maybe because Grandpa gave it to them. I don't know. They just loved it.

As I stood on the patio, I knew the time had come to pass this race car to some other little boys. The car had been in the shed accumulating dust and spider webs for a long time; I got a bucket, soap, and water, and scrubbed it clean. I turned the car over to wash its underside, and a huge spider crawled away, leaving a sac of spider eggs inside the wheel. I was instantly reminded of E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, and Charlotte's “magnum opus,” the spider eggs, the offspring, she considered her “best work.” The memory of watching the Charlotte's Web video with my little ones made me sad. Where had the time gone? I threw a bucket of water on the sac of spider eggs (I'm not that sentimental!), and washed them away.

Apart from a few scratches here and there, the car was shiny and ready to roll once again. I asked my sons to pose for one last photograph with their beloved car – they willingly obliged – then taped a “FREE” sign to the toy, and placed it at the curb.

Within ten minutes, a truck pulled up, and strangers “adopted” the race car. As another piece of my sons' childhoods disappeared, I was sad, but comforted in knowing that Grandpa's race car would now bring joy to somebody else's little boys, and give somebody else's Mom precious memories like mine.

That race car, much more than a mere toy, is the gift of love that keeps on giving.

Love, Grandpa's “magnum opus.”