Thursday, November 29, 2012

Huston

I have one gratitude this morning but it will encompass not only the three I promised to post but even more. My gratitude today is for my friend, my mentor, Huston Jenkins. It was a year ago that Huston had the first stroke that greatly altered his life. Up until then, my friend was still training and riding horses at eighty-seven, still traveling alone across country whenever the whim hit him, and still imparting his wisdom and humor and friendship to me. Exactly a week before his stroke last year, I had just jumped an emotional hurdle and overcome a long standing feud with a fear that had been winning up until then. It was a total knockout though, I beat that fear to a pulp and the first person I called was Huston. He listened patiently as I went on and on about how ecstatic I was. I could feel his smile across the miles and through the phone. When I finally paused, he said something to me that touched me more than anything anyone has ever said to me. He said, "I'm proud of you. I always knew you could do it. I believed in you when you didn't believe in yourself." It still makes me cry to think of that. I've been blessed with a lot of wonderful people in my life, people who have loved and supported me but until that day, I'd never really felt that someone believed in me and I don't think I ever believed in myself. Today, Huston's kids, who take such wonderful care of him, are picking him up at rehab to bring him home. He broke a hip a few weeks ago and had to endure yet another surgery and then over two weeks of rehab. He and they have been through so much this past year but they stick by him and he keeps fighting. Every time I've had the opportunity to talk to him again (the first time I heard his voice on the phone after his stroke, I felt pure joy), he always tells me he's doing great whether that's true or not. He won't give up and that is another lesson he's taught me. I use to tease him by saying that when he sold me a horse eight years ago, he had no idea that he was taking on a fifty year old to raise. Oddly, at fifty-seven, I do feel as if I'm finally growing up, like I've learned so much over the last decade, and so much of that new knowledge, so many life lessons came from my friend, Huston. I miss my friend, we use to talk several times a week and for hours at a time. He always use to say that he wished that we weren't separated by so many miles and I told him that I don't know if us being neighbors would be such a good thing because neither of us would get anything done but riding and talking horses. Then again, what would be wrong with that? I'm grateful to my friend Fran Forester for introducing me to Huston. I'm grateful to Steve who bought me that horse. I'm grateful to Huston for selling me that horse because he only sells his horses to people he likes and people he knows will love and care for them just like he does. In fact, he was offered five times what we paid for Mouse by an interested buyer in Europe and he refused them. They might have gone higher in price but Huston stopped them and told them that it didn't matter how much they offered because he had already promised the horse to me. Of course, I also remember the sadness in his voice when I called to tell him that I was coming by to pick up my horse. "You're taking her?" he asked and he wasn't happy. I later asked him about those buyers in Europe with the deep pockets that Huston was unwilling to delve into. We were sitting at his kitchen table and I'd just told him that I was leaving Mouse with him for the summer so that he could breed her for us. I really didn't want to breed her although I am quite happy with the results. I was leaving her with him because I knew he needed her. His beloved wife, Patty, had passed away the previous June. I knew that nothing could take away that pain but I thought Mouse would distract him. I asked him that day something I'd been wondering about for years. I told him that his niece had told me about the European buyers and how much money they'd offered for his little gray mare. I asked him, "You used me as an excuse but you wouldn't have sold to them even if I hadn't been in the picture, would you?" He dropped his head and said very quietly, "They would have mistreated her. They wouldn't love her like you do." And like he did. He is an incredible horseman, he is an incredible man. I am lastly grateful to God for bringing him into my life. What he's given to me through his friendship, through his wisdom, and through the kindness of his heart, I can't even begin to measure and I'll never be able to repay. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mama

I know that I've missed posting my gratitudes here so often this month but today's thanksgiving is close to heart.

I'm grateful today for my mother. She's been gone twenty-two years and I still miss her every single day. I wish I could hear her voice, I wish I could feel her arms around me hugging me. She had the biggest, most loving heart of anyone I've ever known. You've heard the saying, "They don't have an unkind bone in their body?" Well, I think that saying was written for Mama. She took care of my bedri
dden father for the last ten years of her life. It was not easy, Daddy could be a difficult man. But she remained patient and kind and did what had to be done day after day, what she considered her duty for those vows she'd taken years earlier, "for better, for worse; in sickness and in health." I sometimes think that all that Mama got was the worst part of that agreement but the minister who preached her funeral, a long time friend, wept as he recalled her love for her children and her devotion to us. We four were her life, her everything. She extended her love to others, people who by either fact or circumstance were orphans like her. She'd had a difficult life. Her mother died when she was only five. Until the day she died, she recalled that heartache of sitting by the fire in her little rocking chair and clutching a beloved doll while she said it felt as if her little heart would split in two with the pain. Her father passed just nine years later. She nursed him in his final days and then was left on her own at fourteen. I hear people constantly making excuses for crimes and mistakes and even poor decisions by saying they've had a hard life. My mother's life was extremely difficult almost from her beginning but she never become bitter or hard. Instead, every hardship that she went through in her life made her more understanding of pain and want in others. She told me, not long before her death, that she'd stayed trapped in that house for so many years caring for Daddy that when she died, there would be no one to attend her funeral, no friends left outside of her kids' friends who would come to pay their respect to them not her. I hope she was looking on at her funeral because it was a packed house and the majority of the people there were there because she'd touched their loves in some way. So many told me that day that she had touched them with her kindness, generosity and love. One of my friends told me that she'd never seen so many tears outside of the family section at any funeral. Grown men were weeping with abandon after telling me that when they were children my mother had shown them the only kindness and love they'd every known. My mother didn't think that her life mattered beyond her kids. She was the wisest person I've ever known but that was one time she was very wrong. I know how very, very blessed I was to have had her in my life for thirty-five years and to have known not only her all encompassing love but her friendship as well. She always told me that we were more than mother and daughter, we were buddies, best friends, pals. She was the best friend I've ever had and I'm so very thankful today to have known her.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Month of Thanksgiving

Gratitude for November 12, 2012:

I have several dear friends who are going through struggles at the moment and need your prayers. Each of these people have given me so much and added so much to my life whether they know it or not. I truly believe that everyone who enters or touches our lives is given to us for a purpose. There have been times that I almost selfishly believed that I was the gift to these friends, that it was my pu
rpose being fulfilled by what I could add to their lives, how I could help them but I was wrong. I am the one who has been blessed by each of these friendships by the gift of the inclusion of each of these amazing people in my life. One has taught me about strength, one about sacrifice, one about extreme faith, one about courage, one about acceptance and one about love and friendship and in turn, they've each taught me all of these lessons because they all possess these traits, these gifts, these talents. 
One of them in particular has been like a father to me and yet he has given me love and acceptance and support and encouragement that I never knew from my own father. We've only known each other for eight years and only became the closest of friends during the last four years but it feels as if we've always known each other. I am so grateful for the gift of him and all of his friendship and wisdom. 
Life is odd and as I look back over my 57 years on this earth, I'm amazed by how large my learning curve has been at times but when you're young, you're not even aware that you're being tutored with life's experiences much less by the people you share that life with.
First Corinthians 13:11-12, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 
I use to think about those two verses a lot when I was young and ponder their meaning. Now, I am older and do understand. I know who I am now, I know who my friends are, and I know and am so grateful for everything they add to my life. Life isn't always pretty, it isn't always sunny and happy. The glass clouds over a lot more as you age. There is more loss, there is more pain but somehow both make the times of joy sweeter, your appreciation stronger for all of the blessings and people in your life. 
I pray to God each morning for each of my friends. For those in need and pain, whether it's physical or emotional, I pray for healing, I pray for strength, I pray for courage, I pray for comfort, I pray for acceptance for them and for me. I also start my morning prayer by thanking God each day for each and every one of the people who have made my life fuller and better by their presence in it. They are my gratitude for today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gratitude

Well, I missed posting about my birthday on this blog. I will have to backtrack in a few days. I wanted to say something about gratitude and blessings though. I try to start each day with gratitude. It just makes you a happier person to consider how blessed you are at the start to each day....and cuts down a lot on griping and complaining about little bothers. November is the month of thanks because it is the month that the USA day of Thanksgiving falls in. On Facebook, many of my friends and I are listing something that we're grateful for each day of this month. You'd think that would be hard but the more you think about what you are grateful for the more blessed you realize you are. I will come back and catch up to this tenth day of the month but for today, this is my gratitude:

Today, I'm thankful for Steve, my husband of thirty-seven years, my best friend and confidant. He still makes me laugh, he still calls me at odd times just to talk, the twinkle in his beautiful eyes when he smiles still makes my heart flutter, he still gets me better than anyone and loves me despite myself. We were discussing last night what bad patients husbands make. A friend is currently nursing her husband and I told Steve that I sympathize. I've stood in line at the pharmacy when I had the flu and could barely stand just so I could pick up his meds when he threw out his back. Then I waited on him for days afterwards, cooking everything he wanted and letting him choose what to watch on TV (that was the major sacrifice.) I didn't mind doing these things but as I pointed out last night, he never returns the favor. He's a loving guy but a terrible care giver. He says that he doesn't like to see me in pain so when something happens like my fall from the horse a few years ago that left me with broken bones and barely able to get around, Steve just disappears. I appreciate his empathy but leaving me to fend for myself is not the best course, ha. Now, I know you're asking why I'm complaining about the man who is the object of today's gratitude? Here's the reason, my truck is torn up, will not run and Steve, who has other things he needs to be doing today, got up early so that he could fix it. He may not be the best nurse in the world but he does take care of me. He just likes things he knows how to fix and a hurting me, is not one of those. Oddly, that really does touch my heart, too because he loves me so much, he can't stand to see me hurt but he does make his sacrifices in other ways and I do know that I am loved and cherished and that is a blessing.