Ode to Gretchen; Mother's Day
Today is Mother's Day, and I am grateful to be able to hug my own mother this day. And grateful she opted to BE a mother the third time. I was not expected. Not wanted. Certainly not needed into the situation she was in. Yet she kept me and birthed me and raised me. And named me Esther, which means, "radiant one; shining star." What more could a daughter ask? Oh, yes - for a horse! So here's THAT story...
Gretchen was a divorced mom (back in the day when "nice" ladies did not divorce, but tough-and-weary mothers who were tired of having an abusive alcoholic in the house DID divorce), a schoolteacher (who loathed her job each and every day - she always wanted to be an office administrator/secretary instead - but she got up/showed up/taught school every day for decades to provide for her three daughters), and we had ZEEEERO dollars for a horse.
And yet her third daughter's first word ever spoken was, 'pony.' And there were horses next door . . . And one day, a scrawny little red and white paint mustang offloaded at the neighbor's place. And Esther lost her heart to Sam.
And shortly thereafter, some boys were hunting and, finding no deer, shot Sam for sport. Twice. One bullet when clean through him, but missed his heart. The other bullet lodged in a lung (and he would carry that slug always).
And the vet said Sam needed hand-walking nonstop for days and days to keep the lung from collapsing. And Esther volunteered . . .
And she and Sam walked and walked and walked. She prayed - ALOT. And sang out loud - Sam loved to hear her sing.
And Sam lived.
And Sam's owners decided to sell Sam.
And thirteen-year-old Esther went to Gretchen with tears streaming down her cheeks and said, "Mom, it's not just ANY horse - it's SAM!!!!!"
And Gretchen (whom, I suspect, was hiding her own tears, knowing she could never afford such a thing), said, "all I have is two college bonds for your education. They total $125.00. That is all I have."
To which Esther, not sensing how hard it must have been for an adult to be so brutally honest with a child as to admit such poverty, said, "that's exactly what they're asking for Sam! $125 dollars!!!! Cash out the bonds, buy Sam, sign a waiver for me to get a job and I'll work to earn every penny he costs us, and I PROMISE I will keep my grades up and scholarship my way through college!"
And, for whatever reason which I will never truly understand, Gretchen said, "okay."
She cashed out the bonds.
She bought Sam.
She made me the happiest human on the planet.
She chopped down trees from our yard.
We dug holes and tamped the trees-now-crooked-posts.
We bought one strand of electric wire and a "shock box" and a battery from the Co-op.
She signed papers with the owners of The Tiger Den restaurant in Rockwood, so I could work, despite being underage.
And, for twenty-six perfect years, Sam never put a hoof wrong. Twenty-six years of making memories, learning responsibility, being blissfully happy, and having my entire world shatter when I buried him, but surviving to learn that those twenty-six years of memories would forever burn brightly in my heart.
All because of a Mother's Love.
And, in case you're curious: I have seven college degrees. All on scholarship. Three in music. Three in science. One in law. Not trying to brag. Just letting the world know that I kept my end of the bargain. And that, along with allll the things Gretchen has taught me thus far about life, Faith in God, kindness to others, and the integrity of one's word are paramount. That's a grand trifecta to teach one's children.
Happy Mother's Day, Gretchen
Much love, from your mustanger, musician, lawyer, writer daughter -