Continuing my "life review"..... I hope to make 70 yrs., but I'm in remission with cancer, so who knows? Someone was asking me about my father the other day. I got to thinking of all the wonderful things he did for us as we were growing up. He is such a kind, quiet, witty man.
I remembered the time when I was showing saddlebreds. A new saddlebred came into Bonita Valley Farms and she was absolutely perfect for me. I was 9 yrs. old at the time. My trainer let me ride her during one of my lessons. I used to stand outside her stall, petting her, and dreaming about owning her. I so wished she was mine. But, I was smart enough to know she probably cost too much. I had never had my "own" horse. I got passed down my brother's quarter horses. That Christmas we opened up all of our presents under the tree. Christmas was such a special time. When we were through and playing with some our new toys, my father said with a twinkle in his eye, "Suzanne, I think there is a card towards the back of the tree addressed to you from Santa." He handed me the card. I opened it and started instantly crying tears of joy. It was a picture of me petting the saddlebred mare I had so wished for. The card read, To my new Mistress. Merry Christmas from Santa Claus.
Dad was my biggest "horse show" fan. My mother was too anxious to come watch me in the big coliseums ride. But, my Pop always had a front row seat. He used to get so excited that one time the judge had to ask him to pipe down. He used to yell "Lookie here judge, now that's the winner," (among other things). He was so proud. I worked hard with the horses and did well to win year end awards, go to the finals, etc. The horseshow crowd was a huge social event for my folks and one that my brother, mother, and I could compete in.
I can also remember how patient Dad was teaching me how to drive on the back roads in Kansas in his 1950's Willy's Jeepster. It was a 3 speed on the column. I got my driver's license and got my first job at 16 yrs. of age. I trailered my quarter horse by myself to work on the weekends to give riding lessons. In order to get the job, I was asked to get old Snowball out of the barn, saddle him up, and ride him up to the arena. What they didn't know at this farm in Lenexa, Kansas was that I knew the horse from years past. My brother taught at the YMCA and this horse was at his camp. He was a trick horse. My brother Jim gave me a few inside secrets. When the owners of the training barn came out with Snowball, they said, the job is yours if you can ride him to the arena. Remember, I was just 16 years old. As soon as I got on him he started to rear and carry on. I turned his ass to the riding ring and backed him clear up the hill and right into the riding ring. Pete Petersen gave me the hugest grin I had ever seen on a cowboy and said, "The job is yours." With that I had Snowball bow down as I dismounted. (Trick training is just in my blood)....LOL
Oh yeah...and when I raised my first 4-H steer, Bully 4-U, Dad convinced me at 10 yrs. of age after the auction at the Del Mar fair that he was going to a country club to be part of a petting zoo. Hey, isn't that what fathers' are for?
And, when my old saddlebred had a stroke, my father brought him home to rehab him. My trainer wanted to put him down. Dad would walk with him holding him up as he leaned into the side he was weak on. He actually got him so well, he used to sit on his back while he grazed drinking a martini! When he was well enough, he found a Vet with 100's of acres to turn him out to pasture.
When I went to Arizona to boarding school (a college prep school) my Dad made sure they took horses and trailered my quarter mare to school from Kansas and picked us both up when the school year was over. He would fly in to see me ride when the headmaster would allow us to go to a horseshow.
Anyways...just a few stories. When I left Florida this October it was a muggy day. Jim and I sat in the front seat with the air conditioner on low, because Pop forgot his sweater. Pop was in the backseat. At 93 he is always COLD. Dad was fussing a bit about how cold it was. After a few minutes of silence, he said, "Hey, I hope that you guys start talking. That way I'll know you haven't froze to death." Dad is the king of wit even with his dementia. He has such grace and wonderful manners. I am so blessed. :0)