reflections
May 27th, 2011 Death

Just when it seems that life can throw more at you than you can stand it throws you a bone to chew on to make what used to seem hard, seem trivial.
Today I was visiting with some new clients. I’ve developed an affection for these clients. She has come to every demonstration I’ve put on here in Idaho and become an avid student of Natural Hoof Care. We have visited and I learned upon our first meeting that she was a cancer survivor.
She and her husband have a way about them that immediately sets you at ease. In their 50’s they regularly hold hands, are quick to smile and look at each other with love and display a constant support of one another that is unusual. However, they are just as warm to those around them. They share their affection abundantly.
Today I stopped in to visit with their mare who is undergoing some hoof transformation that is going to be painful for awhile. They understand the process we’ve started and are keeping me up to date on her progress. I love this communication because it helps me to understand what they are observing on a daily basis and they love it because when needed I come, adjust the mare and keep her on the path to recovery.
We are seeing progress.
Today though, our conversation was very sobering. They shared with me that she is terminal. This has been the final diagnosis. She’s battled cancer since 1993.
Yes, if you did the math like I did, she’s had cancer since she was 32. She has been through three rounds of chemo, numerous holistic treatments and is an expert at positive thought laced with bouts of crying and pain. The normal fare for people with illnesses without explanation.
I hated to say it but I could tell this couple was special. They held onto the precious cargo of life and in it they displayed for others that life, while uncertain, is what you make of it. Sharing affection and laughter they were making the most of it knowing that in time the diagnosis that finally came would come knocking.
With so many trips to the doctor and so many years to get to know her disease there was a finality in tonight’s conversation. They barely know me but asked if I would be willing to be on her “team” as she gets closer to her demise. You see, that was important to them because they are horse lovers. Rather, she is a horse lover and her husband, who loves her, knows it is likely he will be left with her pets when she is called to go home to her brand of heaven.
I started a bit when they asked me because we also share the bond of having death come in the form of cancer. My Mom died from cancer just four months ago so we have knowledge of this disease. A bond that while common can never become familiar.
What an honor to be asked to stand strong for someone who is going to die. I know this all too well having just lost my Mom and having walked with her through this transition. Hers was quick. My new friends will not be. It’s going to be a journey of hospice and home care. She wants to be with her horses for as long as she is able and wants to die knowing her horses will be cared for and transitioned appropriately. She has not only reached out to me, she has also reached out to her best friend. Her best friend also has horses. It’s a good plan. She can pass knowing that there are people who will care for her animals until suitable homes can be found.
Of course, they, like I, maintain hope that her demise won’t be forthcoming immediately but then again, realistically there is the very good chance that it will. Afterall, this is not a new battle she’s been fighting. While it is familiar it is not a beginning fort her. It’s an ending.
I can’t seem to make out why death has suddenly found time to touch my life lately. Being on the team of accepting it while hating it isn’t a station I find comfortable or appealing.
Yet the place has an honor to it too. It takes strength to stand with someone when they are dying. One must listen with not only their ears but also with their heart to the last wishes of those who are dying.
Nothing in my career has prepared me for this. The only thing I can take from this is the importance we need to have in considering that everyday of health is a gift. Everyday with loved ones is a show of grace that should not be taken for granted. There is so much to life and yet, its end is where most of the lessons are. Strange that this should be the case. I have no explanation, no words of wisdom. Just the humility that comes from staring it in the face and saying “Some day death, you and I shall meet and when we do I will also have those around me who are strong.”

May 17th, 2011 When the Wrong Thing is the Right Thing

“Would you be able to help ****** with her horse?” my brother asked. “She’s had him for over a year and still can’t halter him and he seems explosive and dangerous. He’s better than when she got him but the trainer she is working with now hasn’t been able to unravel his issues.”
That was the conversation my brother and I started in March and two weeks ago Shado was shipped from Montana to Idaho to see if I could unravel his issues.
I was excited to get to work on another problem horse. It’s been lots of farrier calls and no training lately. A necessity to help make ends meet. The reality is that I make a lot more money doing farrier work than I do training.
The other issue is that I have to be much more careful now. If something happens to me there would be nobody to help my Grandpa.
Still, this was about my niece. She’s 14 and horse CRAZY! Just like her aunt. So the pairing seemed natural.
My niece has been going through some difficult situations lately. One of them involves her interest in boys and the other involves her Mom and Dad getting back together after being divorced for 8 years.
You see, when my Mom died she tied up a lot of loose ends.
The two, my brother and his ex hadn’t seen one another for quite some time other than exchanges with the children. They live 400 miles apart and so it seemed that with his ex-wife’s re-marriage that they would never patch things up.
But my Mom always said they would. She preached it, talked about it and pretty much in her mind it was a done deal…it just hadn’t happened yet. All this despite the fact that my brother always maintained he would never trust his ex. Somehow my Mom knew differently.
At her funeral the two struck up a conversation and this was good timing because my brother’s ex had just lost her husband. He took his own life.
Weird how life works. Tragic and simple, complex and horrific, all at the same time. One death ahead of another and wahlah….they’re back together again, the same chemistry that made them tick the first time as effervescent as ever. The kids were thrilled.
But my niece has been struggling. She loves her horse but couldn’t ride him even though that is what she wanted to do in the worst way. She had begged for this horse and was finally granted her wish.
Her wish has challenged her. She couldn’t have friends around the horse. He was too explosive, unpredictable and scared of his own shadow, or so it seemed. She named him Shado. It seemed appropriate. He was all black, brilliant and beautiful and he was scared of shadows.
When Shado arrived I noted immediately that he was way to quiet in the trailer. Either he was incredibly insecure, which seemed likely or something else was wrong. You see, horses that are transported will move around in the trailer once it stops. They want to get a sniff of the wind to see what their new surroundings tell them. Not Shado. He hunkered in the front bay of the trailer, his eyes unfocused and his body a rigid statue of nerves.
Unloading him was a chore. He didn’t want to put his head down and was snorting and blowing, his head up, stiff and his skin rippled with anxiety.
I had seen this posturing before so I waited for him to lower his head to sniff the opening of the trailer and to ascertain the depth of the step he must take out of the back of the trailer.
You all know I’m intuitive. It was dark but I couldn’t shake the feeling that Shado had a very real problem with his eyes.
“No, no, no!” I thought to myself. “Not his eyes!”
An eye problem meant I would not be able to fix Shado and find him his forever home in the love of a young teenage girls heart.
The plan was for me to get right to work on training Shado and have my niece follow him down three weeks later to spend the summer learning about horses, life on the ranch, and explore her love and passion for these creatures.
I couldn’t think of anything more I wanted to do than to mentor this young lady. Especially since I knew she was struggling with so many things.
She has a boyfriend. She lost her step-dad to a tragic suicide. Her Mom and Dad had gotten back together but this meant now that for that to fully take shape she was going to have to move from her friends, her boyfriend and everything about her old life was slipping away.
“At least I’ll have Shado.” She said.
I can relate. At 14 the world is all about you. It’s the time when you are your most vunerable and your most innocent. So many things are happening at 14. Hormones, friends, self-awareness. I remember the world at 14. In all of its complexities it is the time when the world can revolve and somehow you are in control and yet, out of control, all at the same time. Little things like horses make all of the heavy in the world go away.
I thought of these things as I led Shado from the trailer after he had finally decided to step down. I had literally pushed him out from behind. He went out of the back of the trailer skidding his hooves the entire way. No amount of coaxing or trying to back him out had worked. It was a physical endeavor between myself and the competent delivery driver.
Shado followed closely. Too closely. He barely breathed. It was as if he wanted to be invisible.
My heart was sinking with every step.
There was no way I was going to explain away or justify the fact that I knew Shado could not see.
“Can you wait a moment?” I asked the driver. I needed him to hold Shado for me who was clinging to me in much the same way a child does when they are facing their first day of school. It’s a tense excitement that is both hesitant and uncomfortable.
I patted Shado and talked low to him. He softened and sensed that I was there to help him. He stood quietly, not moving a muscle.
I walked to the truck and came back with my flashlight. Shado had been delivered during the night and I wanted to guage his pupil dilation.
None on the left. Barely any on the right.
My heart sank even more.
“Oh no.” I whispered. “Oh no.”
“He can’t see, can he?” the deliver driver said.
“I don’t think so.” I said, dropping my head. I was beginning to feel sick.
My niece had been given this horse! What kind of a person would give a 14 year old girl and horse they must have known she would fall in love with that had a sight impairment!
I was sick.
My niece had pictures of Shado all over her room, her phone, and her books. Every sentence was generally related to Shado in some way. She never tired of chattering about his every quirk. She knew they had a special bond. She just didn’t know how special that bond was to Shado.
He cued on her voice because his hearing was ultra sensitive and defined. Being blind he would rely on sound to locate his surroundings and my niece had proved to him that her voice meant treats, solace and safety. She was his eyes when she was with him.
“This just can’t be!” I said. I wanted another answer but I KNEW I would not get one. My intuition is that refined. I have many stories where I’ve diagnosed, even when against a veterinarian’s opinion and been proven correct.
Just this one time….I wanted to be wrong. Just this once.
“Shado has no sight in his left eye. His right eye is inflamed, irregular and does not focus normally.” Said the vet.
Shado stood calmly. This was unusual. Get a hand 4 inches from his face and he would go to head bobbing and weaving, clearly signaling his displeasure with touch. He especially did not like his ears messed with.
“I am so sorry.” She concluded.
The veterinary exam confirmed my suspicions and I called my brother and his wife and their daughter to give them the dreary, horrible, terrible, sickening news. Shado was blind.
“It was most likely congenital.” The vet diagnosed. “I doubt he has ever had normal sight.”
I explained this to my family and they sucked in the breath. At last, an answer for why Shado could not be caught. Why Shado would seemingly jump and whirl without provocation. And why he was so unpredictable sometimes and a calm, innocent, sensitive angel at others.
The heaviness in the air was suffocating. I wanted to vomit and yet, I knew that I had to deliver another bit of news that was going to bring this nightmare to its realistic conclusion.
Shado had to be euthanized.
He could not be passed on. There was no telling what might happen to him or to anyone getting him that would be unaware of his condition. Horse rescues are full and there aren’t any in Grangeville, Idaho. An auction was out of the question and not even a subject I would discuss or condone (not that I had any doubt my family would chose that option because they never would). That this was the only option because it was the right thing to do to ease Shado’s suffering. Over the week I had spent with him we too had developed a bond. He was funny, quirky and sensitive. He was also drop dead gorgeous and if you hadn’t had the horse experience I had you would never know his eyes are diseased. They look perfectly normal. It was the backs of his eyes that weren’t developed and that could only be seen with light and an opthalmoscope.
Over the past few days I’ve had a chance to think about this and even as I am writing this I am crying. It all seems too soon after the death of my Mom to have to deal with something like this. I don’t want to and yet, I am going to because I love my niece. I love my family and I am the one qualified to handle this difficult task. I am in sorrow over this and at the same time relieved that my family has their answer. It’s closure and reassuring to know that my niece didn’t get hurt because she listened to her intuition. She’d been tempted to hop upon his back and even encouraged by her trainer but something held her back. She knew. She just didn’t have an explanation.
“What do you think Shado feels?” My young niece asked me. “Is he in pain?”
“Yes, honey.” I said. “He lives in constant anxiety because he can’t see what my harm him. He trembles at sounds he doesn’t recognize because he is frightened. He lowers his head often and blinks and blinks. Sometimes his eyes close half way and his ears are laid back. He is definitely in physical and emotional pain and restoring his sight is the one thing I cannot do for him.” I choaked.
“I don’t want him to suffer anymore.” Said my niece.
“Honey, I think you are doing the right thing and I am proud of you. It takes strength to make that decision.” I said with conviction. I know because I just helped my Mom ease out of this world. Letting go of a loved one while attending to their needs and minimizing their pain is damn tough. That lesson was raw. We both cried and then arranged for her to travel down the next weekend so she could say goodbye. It was all so surreal.
Now, the image of my niece crying into Shado’s neck, her face buried in his mane is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. Such a contrast, her pretty blonde hair against his sleek black hide. Her big blue eyes red and swollen from weeping. He, contentedly munching a peppermint stick she’d stuffed in his mouth just before she burst out crying.
Folks, I’m telling you, I didn’t think my heart could break again but it did.
I wish I didn’t have to be the one to walk with her through this. I wish that I could have given her the dream she had of riding Shado. Of being free with him to gallop across the green of the fields like she talked incessantly about doing. That is what I am good at. Not having to do the wrong thing even though it’s the right thing.

May 16th, 2011 It’s ON!

My highbeams are on and they are spotlighting Pat and Linda Parelli. Last night I opened up my Rocky Mountain Rider Magazine and got the shock of my life…although not wholly unexpected.  I knew three years ago from a client that was dating one of the Parelli ’s apprenctice trainers that the Parelli’s were implementing The Mirror Effect into their program.  Naturally with no credit given to me. 

The shock was seeing a full page ad, Parelli style with the words, “Your Horse is a Mirror of You” The ad is advertising their launch of their new Humanality Program. That goes along with their Horsenality program, another concept Linda, Kirk and I kicked around since one of my major criticisms with them during our visit was to ask them to PLEASE consider the horse and its feelings.  Secondly that the human equation was more imporatant than the horse equation.  My observations of their program was that it was completely one sided. Now, I must commend them they are active students and improving their skills but I am confused WHY it is so hard for them to give credit where credit is due?
After working with a mutual sponsor of Parelli’s, I learned long ago that theirs is a well marketed, selfish little program that uses the basics of human fear based psychology to gain the trust of the masses.  They took his product, splashed their name all over it and have yet to put one advertisement up on their well visited web site letting viewers KNOW where they got the product.  That chapped his hide so much that when I put his ad on my website and also on my CD book he has made me my custom breeches for free for years.  His daughter owns the company now but Joe at Equissentials and now Tracy his daughter, have put up with a lot of crap for almost making nothing from the Parelli’s.
Now, I am not so narcisisstic as to think that I own The Mirror Effect concept. It’s been around awhile. They get around so its wholly believable that they came up with that on their own. However, FOR THE RECORD and FOR WHATEVER ITS WORTH! I am going letting you know that I believe Linda took the inspiration for this concept and the recipe for the process during our meeting in July 2007. Prior to that meeting they were not on the track of addressing humans. They solely focused on disciplining horses through repetition. Linda Parelli now states that using human psychology she can help humans overcome their issues leading to a better relationship with their horse. I commend her labels and her ability to break down barriers for people and admit that this is something I need to work on but draw the line with quotes claiming Pat is the original Holistic Horseman.
Now, I will probably get blasted by the Natural Horsemanship groupies but that’s OK. I’ve lived through that before so I am not afraid to point out the facts. After all that’s what gets them riled up anyway.
I am so glad I grew up in a commune. I truly GET the way people can unwittingly worship a demi-god figure.
Now, also let me point out that I do think the Parelli’s are not evil people. They have a brand, a message, a great marketing program and they are doing what any good business person should do. Research and implement.
Obviously, my conversation with Linda, which was supposed to usher in some sort of working relationship which never materialized, was well received.
Stupid me….I bought right into their offer of friendship and bought it right in the back when I left, I just didn’t know it then.
I should have taken the cue when Pat’s developmentally delayed son walked up to me and said, “What are you doing here? You must be a friend?”
Linda and Pat both shushed him even though he is an adult but I answered by saying, “Well, we’ll see how that develops.” I knew right then that being invited personally to their house was nothing but a snooping session to see if they could glean any useful nuggets of information for their own use. Smart business people. Just methods I don’t personally respect.
Stupid ass me I gushed everything I knew so trusting was I in their integrity.  I won’t make the mistake again.  So, I have decided I will contact Linda and offer her my congratulations. I am glad the world will beging thinking about themselves in the horse training equation. My dream has always been to introduce this paradigm shift in the way people interact with their horses. On a large scale of course. I’ve been bringing that news to people for over 20 years. I am actually an authority on the subject so I do object just a little bit that all of a sudden, with marketing, that Pat and Linda are now claiming to be the leading class authorities on a subject I KNOW they know nothing about. Then I realized. In FACT, I AM THE ONE THAT HAS USHERED IN THIS NEW IDEA! Just not the way I had hoped. I am hit by the reality that my ideas have now been released to an international audience. From now on I can claim the fame that I have actually influenced and been a lead advisor to the Parelli’s program. Huh. I hadn’t thought of that, but it will look great on my resume. Especially when I am able to begin unraveling all of the screwed up horses they’ve already put out there and now, I will also have humans to unravel as well! You see, I happen to think that Linda should leave the people healing to those that ACTUALLY have a psych degree, not just someone that claims to know it like Linda does. SCAREY!
I cringe at what is going to happen when Pat and Linda get to messing around in people’s brains, not just their horses brains. 
My guess is that I will see more of the same crap I’ve seen from their “international revolutionary” program.
I briefly toyed with the idea of a lawsuit. Then I realized that with the power and the BUSINESS saavy they have they would probably sue me for using their term, The Mirror Effect. I have but a lowly copyright I filed back in 1998 and the email and business correspondence proving our meeting was about my concept, The Mirror Effect. Huh. Imagine what they could do with that!
In doing some research regarding the Linda Parelli Horse Abuse video I found out that my suspicions regarding their business practices is right on target. They have filed lawsuits apparently claiming copyright infringements and forced posters of the videos to remove the video. They’ve got enough power they can now craft their own celebrity profiles. So much for The Mirror Effect here. Horses teach us to be honest. I am not seeing that from their side of the fence.
A recent faux paus by the Parelli’s at The Royal Festival of The Horse was documented by actual viewers.   another video was posted by a private user it is still available to watch.  Here are the links.

http://www.writingofriding.com/in-the-media/parelli-woes-continue/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gf7w_1ifus&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzOqBZRjYoY&feature=related

Mysteriously, the entire video has been pulled and the tape that aired on the program was clipped, chopped and edited so as to remove the training demo of the stallion Pat and Linda terroized that night.

To their credit Parelli’s posted this video rebutting the event:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j25pS6ixWk&feature=related
I know how hard difficult horses can be but I also can see how when you live in a fishbowl it is also easy to become a victim of your ego! I can see 3 things I would be addressing that don’t have a thing to do with “natural horsemanship” or even the bridle!  I’m not telling what those things are because I don’t want the Parelli’s to steal anymore from me than they already have.  I wish I could contact the owner of the stallion.  I know from experience that while this initial problem may be diminished that it is going to surface in another way.  I definitely would like to be on hand when it does! Anyone want to help me track down the owner of that stallion? If so, get your fingers on those keyboards and fire up the internet. This is exactly the project I need to get on film so that we can begin to REALLy be authentic in our relationships, both horse and humans.  The gauntlet has been thrown.  OH…and BTW-if anyone out there has a horse that has really been screwed up by “natural horsemanship”….PLEASE EMAIL ME!  Seriously.  I want to know where the worst of these horses are and I want horses with a documentable  history of being trained using “natural horsemanship.”  I want to film turning these horses around.  Believe me, I could build a whole career just on this alone.  Let’s get busy.  Send this blog to your friends.  It’s an open casting call to begin working on getting horses free from this stupidity.

May 10th, 2011 While I’m Thinking About It

Inspiration is an elusive thing sometimes. Especially when life hits us hard.
I’ve been in a bit of a funk recently for many unspecified reasons and decided that I needed to change my perspectives a little bit.
The first thing I did was buy a Mocha Latte at 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon. That is sure to change my evening perspective. I don’t drink coffee as it upsets my stomach. I especially don’t drink it since it keeps me up late at night! Lately I’ve been going hard again and have found myself continuing to mourn the loss of my Mother. My birthday and Mother’s Day fall within days of each other and both of those days were painful reminders that she isn’t here in the flesh anymore.
I found that while people were very concerned about my wellbeing over these days and that I deeply and sincerely appreciated their concern, that I still walked around with this empty hole in the pit of my stomach.
I can’t explain it but I have had a very hard time shaking it. I’ve definitely tried.
I’ve sat down multiple times to write and I lack the inspiration to put meaningful words on the paper.
This is frustrating too. The ebb and flow of creativity is a roller coaster of feel good vs. feel frustrated.
I have helped countless people and horses this week. In fact, this past week is nothing but a blur. I know that my energies are tapped so I am mindful of the fact that I have to take some time to invest in myself too.
So last night I fell back on an old habit. I conjured up some of my team players and consulted them for some late night feedback.
I am a firm believer in surrounding yourself with those who believe in you, inspire you, support you, get you, understand you, care for you, ask things of you (because it should be a two way street), need from you, take from you and be with you.
These people don’t necessarily have to be personal friends or people you know personally. My team happens to include several celebrity personalities and people I have never even met. The internet makes that connection possible for me but even if it didn’t I would imagine these people to the best of my ability and believe in their ability to meet my every whim with no strings attached. It’s wonderful to have these relationships!
I needed this badly because my energy levels have fallen and I needed a boost. As I browsed over new equipment for our new milk cows I lacked the enthusiasm I’ve felt in the past. I am trying to remember that milking a cow is going to be fun and rewarding, not MORE WORK?! not to mention entertaining for my Grandpa.
He and I have had several conversations about the arrival of the new milk cows and he can’t wait to see the young one kick me out of the barn, or so he says. In his old age any old excitement is special.
Anyway, in so planning for these new arrivals I decided to give myself away to my caffeine high and surf the internet.
I am not usually one to look at YouTube (a colossal waste of one’s time when one is so friggin busy! –although I would love to I haven’t taken the time) but last night I picked up there (because what do people do on their evenings anyway if they aren’t working? I innocently justified that this was working since I was investing in ME and needed to take my mind somewhere else besides obsessing on Chapter 8 of my new book I am working on. As a result of my night out quite by accident I was entertained along with 18 million other people by my good friend Gnarles Barkley (a.k.a. Cee Lo Green) who did a wonderful video take on the famous Rorschach test, one of my all-time favorite psychological mind probing mystery tools. In 3:03 minutes I was transported into a mind world of my own and answered my own question, yes, I possibly am crazy but who the hell cares? If you want to watch, here’s the link. I highly recommend it. This is brilliant!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd2B6SjMh_w

Next I had a full blown discussion (albeit one sided) with Tony Robbins. My MAN TONY! (not talking about the ex by the way)…
And learned a great deal about myself as I always do when I listen to Tony. He’s an absolute inspiration to me and kicked me in the butt once again for being so stuck in my ways. Thanks man!
Tony’s also an inspiration because he is never fixed in one place. Every time I go to his website (which is generally every 4-6 months) everything has changed. Man, I wish my website could do that! Anyway, I put his link here in case you want to go and get some mine nourishment too.

http://www.tonyrobbins.com/

And asked myself, so, what does this have to do with horses? A LOT! Thinking outside of the box is what got me to where I am and as I made my pilgrimage out of my box Iast night I was once again struck by what a phenomenal world we cohabitate in and how much it offers us if we will only peek around the corner of doubt in our mind and embrace all that we are.
K. That was my hour. Time to fix Grandpa his lunch then its off to trim horses for the rest of the day. Then tonight, perhaps I can get the engine started to write some more on that blasted book that’s kicking my butt right now. As Tony says, where focus goes so does success…or some darn thing like that.

May 6th, 2011 A Mother’s Warm Embrace

A Mother’s Warm Embrace
It’s hard to follow a blog when the one before it has been so inspired but this week I had another significant experience and one that has improved my whole being for an entire 48 hours. I wish cosmic enlightenment and the knowledge that the Universe really does have things figured out could be bottled and administered as needed.
Alas, I must be satisfied with keeping experiences such as mine close to my heart and trust that they are designed to lead my path and keep me encouraged. Since December 24, 2011 I have fought to stay insightful, inspired and balanced. I am still working on it. December 24 was the day my Mom died and when she died a part of me went with her.
But my Mom would not want me to be hindered by her death even though I know she would sympathize with my pain and do something special in the way that she always did to give me comfort and encouragement. My Mom was the great encourager.
My birthday was Wednesday May 4th and the morning before I had a strange experience.
As I came out of sleep I had a very real experience that my Mom was there with me, standing next to the bed. This wouldn’t have been unusual in our usual pattern we adopted at the times I traveled to visit with her. My Mom always woke first, made coffee and generally had a loaf of fresh bread baking while I lingered in bed.
Many is the time I have come back to Idaho to crash, recharge and refocus. Being driven and ambitious by nature and seemingly thinking I have a calling that is yet unfulfilled I have charged full tilt into life living wide open when I can and trying to stay afloat while staying grounded in following my dreams.
This is exactly what my Mom encouraged and guided. I always looked to her for wisdom and she was always there to give it.
I never realized how important her calls were or how I would look back and wish that when she had called and I was in the middle of a project that I would have just picked up the phone and chatted for a few minutes. When I would call her she was always excited to hear from me, even if I cried over some trivial thing, which I sometimes did because I could share those things with my Mom.
As I woke her presence was loving as ever…and impatient. I heard her footsteps as she tromped down the hall. Really. This happened clear as day and I smiled to myself because I knew she was there. I was fully awake when I heard her footsteps retreat. I don’t know where she went. The rest of the day passed uneventful.
But the next day I ached for her presence again. I hurt so bad that I cried before I even got out of bed. I was missing her because this day was my Birthday and she would not be here this year to wish me Happy Birthday. Somehow I thought we would be doing that for a great long time to come.
My Dad called. My brother called and I missed Kirk’s call, but the one I missed most was my Mom. I stifled tears as my Brother comforted me in his usual way, reminding me that I am getting OLD! I retorted as I usually do, that at least I wouldn’t EVER be as old as he is….he is 6 years older than me. He just chuckled but he did ask me, “How are you, really?” I appreciated that concern. My Dad was just as tender. They both recognize the significance of the relationship my Mom and I had.
Then breakfast with Grandpa, who stood looking at me in such a way that I knew he had something important to say. He’s 95 so I listen. His is the wisdom so many generations miss and so precious are his words to me that I will literally drop everything when he wishes to have a conversation. He is now the mentor my Mom can no longer be.  And I’ve learned my lesson not to put off a conversation when the conversation can be had in the NOW.
“Did you know you share the same birthday as my Mother?”
We had talked about his Mom the night before. He still misses his Mom and he shared tender memories with me, letting me know my heritage and charging me with doing as well. That’s a weighty charge and I gladly accept it.
I have learned this week that I come from a long line of pioneering individuals. Tough, hard-hewn individuals that are survivors. People of substance, honesty, integrity and authenticity.
I don’t know why my parents didn’t tell us more as kids growing up. Perhaps they just adopted the idea that their raising of us was in the traditions of these special people. If they did, they were right but for me it has been something I have grasped in only the last few months as losing my Mom has made knowing these things a necessity. A way for me to hang on to her and embrace my heritage. I have made a transition from child to adult and caretaker all in one fell swoop and something has changed. I now have a mantle to be responsible for. The world and the future is in my hands now. Somehow, that’s both frightening and satisfying.
Perhaps this is why my Mom came to me. She was impatient that I might find out what my Grandfather was to say. I think she knew she would influence his words and she knows that I am always grumpy the day before my birthday. I can’t stand suspense! I can’t stand not being able to open a gift because you have to wait for THE day you were born. My Mom always timed her gifts as close to the event as possible because she knew that for me, an impatient Taurus that waiting for such a gift was nothing less than torture!
I think she was waiting for me to get up and take on the day because she knew what Grandpa would share with me. That I shared the same birthday has his cherished Mother, a woman who also was very important to my Mom.
I didn’t know it, but my Mom was named Carrie Ann in honor of Carrie Ann, my Grandpa’s Mom.
WOW! I’ve been alive Forty-one years and this is the first time I’ve known that I shared the same birthday as my great-grandmother and that not only do I carry on my Mom’s legacy, I carry with me the love of my relatives and my life is a reflection of all that they accomplished and brought to this world.
Caring for my Grandfather I have never been more proud…or devastated.
My Grandpa knows this and the day before this revelation he had gone back into his bedroom and dug into his memories. He brought out a photo of my Mom. A photo taken when she was 8 and put it up on the mantle. I stood incredulous. I look EXACTLY like her. It’s uncanny. It’s a photo I have never seen before and it spoke to me on an emotional level I have a hard time describing. And then Grandpa told me what he has said many times with his voice warm in memory, “Your Mom was such a good girl. She was always kind. Always special. Always smiling even when things were tough.” What I heard was, “I was proud of her. I miss her too.”
Yes, that is the Mom I knew. Remembering my Birthday now won’t be empty. My Mom made it special in her own unique way and made it very clear that when I sleep or when I wake, I am not alone.