Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Life with Daddy, part 1

In the last little while I have had friends lose their Dads or their Dads have fallen ill, sometimes seriously. As I walk through those times with my friends and try to offer words of wisdom and condolences, I am reminded of my Dad,his great personality, his giving nature,his mischievous heart, and his wisdom. I would like to share some of that with you, to remind you to cherish your
Dad or his memory, and to reminisce for myself.

My Dad passed more than 24 years ago and while the ache is not always present, there are times with I miss him just as acutely. Other times when the pain is not as sharp, but the sorrow is still present, especially as I wonder what he would say about my life, the decisions I have made, and his grandchildren.

Several years ago I was speaking with my sister about my relationships with others growing up, and she made the remark that I had not had many friends because Daddy was my best friend. What a remarkable concept. I loved going with my Dad on his appointments, even if I had to sit in the car with a book until he had finished. Because I was the tail end of the children in my family, sometimes it was as if I was an only child. Dad was older and had more time(and money)to lavish on me. Remarkedly enough, I don’t believe I was spoiled. I remember a girlfriend's mom telling me one day that she never heard a child say thank you so many times. I also remember Dad taking me shopping for horse equipment and asking me, “do you need this?” I tried not to be too greedy, for he was generous. One time it was a rain sheet for the horse. None of my friends had something so extravagant, even the wealthier ones. Finally he asked me if I had it would I use it. Of course, and was glad to have it to cover me and my horse while waiting for my turn to jump at the competitions. It wasn’t long until others had rain sheets as well.

The horse hobby was an expensive one. I got my first horse for Christmas at age 7. Before that I was the horse. My mom says I didn’t know kids were supposed to walk upright until I went to kindergarten. My family rode western and mostly just trail rode, until I convinced Dad to let me go to the riding part of girl scout camp. I wanted to return home when I saw there were no western saddles. Sometimes I wonder if Dad ever regretted forcing me to stay, for I came home from camp two weeks later vowing to learn to ride English and jump. That started the rounds of lessons, more expensive horses, Pony Club and competitions,the whole way up to national level.I remember the first horse my father bought me, he complained how much he had paid for “a gelding, not even registered! More than my sister’s registered mare!”  a few years later he was pleasantly surprised to find my riding had increased the horse’s value, at least until he realized he had to pay more for the next one as I moved up in the levels.

 After I was married and supporting my own horse habit, I began to realize even more how expensive it had been. One day while walking with my Dad through the woods, I thanked him for all he had made possible with my riding, admitting how expensive it had been. His response was this, “Who knows how inexpensive it was?” he was referring to how so many of my peers had gotten into trouble with boys, drugs and alcohol. He said he always knew where I was, what I was doing, and knew my horses were my priority. I dated a guy in high school. One day my Dad asked me if I was still planning to go to college. Of course, I told him. Well, he said, that young man is thinking marriage. I was incredulous. I was only a junior in high school. He was a senior. I had plans for my life. Shortly after that I broke that relationship, and at the end of his senior year he got married to someone else. My Dad’s wisdom and my passion for horses prevented me from making a lasting mistake.

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