June 01, 2011

Thank You Joe

I Love Horses.
Horse Crazy since about age three
and fascinated by horse books
plastic Breyer horses
playing imaginary horses with my friends, Lisa and Kathy;
three little girls running through the yards and neighborhoods...

... with cowgirls on mustangs jumping cactus somewhere out in the old west
or strong horses carrying packs across windswept snow-covered mountains
or draft horses with heavy carts on cobbled roads in 17th Century England
or regal Arabian stallions running across foreign deserts
(with horses of every size, color and breed;
Pintos, Palominos, Appaloosas, Shetland Ponies, Wild Mustangs, Morgans -
the list was everlasting),

and running free

My room was filled with horse books, 12-inch tall Breyer horses,
horse statues, horse bookends, horse posters, horse-covered clothing...

And when I was nine;
Joe, a friend from my tiny elementary school
(who had always known of my "horse-craziness")
moved with his parents and four brothers
from a tiny house in our tiny town
to a lovely farm
big enough for all those boys to grow and play and thrive.

Telling his parents and mine,
"now Martha can get a horse and keep it here".

When I turned ten; my parents brought a big wonderful Appaloosa
to the McBurney farm.
Shadow had a new home and a little owner.

Joe and I
were probably more like brother and sister;
and over the years
I would come to the farm twice a day
to brush and curry and spoil and ride
my big gentle horse,
Joe would stand on the other side of the stall,
and practice feeding carrots to Shadow
and talk about his day
or tease (but in a nice way),
and was always careful not to scare or startle the horse.

He helped load hay into the hayloft in the fall
and sometimes would help to muck the sloppy stalls in the spring.

We went to the same tiny elementary school and the "big city" high school,
and would wave as we passed by each other
along their long driveway at the end of the day;
he was probably headed to work or playing basketball with friends,
I was on my way to see my horse.

He went to college and moved out of town,
and I continued to go to the farm
every day to see my horse
and enjoyed chatting with his mom and dad and brothers.

I went to that farm for more than 25 years,
(Joe's dad had NO idea how long a horse could hang around a farm!)
And sometimes I would house-sit for Joe's parents
and sometimes they would babysit my horse.

A friend of my named John
bought a horse and kept his horse with mine;
and the two horses became friends
and John and I became husband and wife.

I don't think I ever thanked Joe
for offering his parent's farm.

And a few years ago he died of cancer.

It is belated, but no less heartfelt:
Thank You Joe.

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