Renewal: A Story; and the Ups and Downs of Horse Racing!
These are out two retired racehorses/broodmares, I'm a Cheetah (19) and Lions Raw (26). They look like they're posing for the picture for this post!
There's an update on I'm Dashing (Lions Raw's great grandson and I'm a Cheetah's grandson), and his racing ups and downs, after this short story which was written for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle word challenge - the words I had to incorporate in the piece are in italics.
The horses munch on the last of this year's green grass. Their companionship is all I have since my sister left last week. We have lived together for seventy years.
I should have realized that Tammy would want to leave, to escape, to float free like a butterfly after the containment, restriction, and suffocation.
Tammy had insisted on taking care of Mother after she was diagnosed with dementia. But I'm sure she hadn't counted on her living for another twenty years. I ran the house and looked after the horses, dogs and cats, and gave her a break now and then, but it wasn't enough. Mother soon demanded, and eventually needed, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week attention. And I can't begin to explain how difficult she was.
Tammy and I were raised on this small farm, but we were never close. I was put to work at a young age. Father grew a variety of vegetables, including carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and beans. He also had a large pumpkin patch. For as long as I can remember, until the day he died, I had the job of weeding. I was too small to wield a hoe at first, so I used a small fork and my bare hands. My fingers were engrained with brown and green stains, so I did my best to hide them under the desk at school.
I felt like an amateur because my heart wasn't in it and I never got paid for my work. I stopped the second my father died and have grown nothing since.
I gaze at the crab-apple tree which looks precarious as its branches, loaded with fruit, swoop down into the paddock where the horses are. We have great pasture because Father looked after the soil, adding nutrients, preventing erosion and rotating vegetables. But we children didn't get the same treatment. We weren't the recipients of tender loving care.
Mother hated the farm. As soon as the youngest of us started school, she took on a full-time job which involved a lot of travel. If she'd been away on a business trip for more than a couple of weeks, we'd brace ourselves for her return. She'd burst into the house: it was like a hurricane hitting us. Our lives would be turned upside down. The furniture would be rearranged, the fridge would be cleaned and restocked, our clothes washed and folded, our sheets changed, and the house scrubbed. But seldom would she look any one of us in the eye.
So why did Tammy and I stay? The others left as soon as they could. I don't think I know why. Tammy has talked of guilt, of the expectation that one should care for one's mother in her old age. Maybe, for me, it had some thing to do with my girlfriend. She left me after five years and my future evaporated. I was lost. And I still haven't found myself, these many years later. And, despite everything, perhaps I like the farm. I can't think of living anywhere else. In fact, I can't think of living at the moment.
But I have decisions to make. Do I stay or do I go? I'm 75. Hard to start a new life. Hard to make up for lost time. I pop the cork on a bottle of wine. I'll drown my sorrows and block everything out.
By the second glass I know this strategy isn't working. I can't stop thinking, wondering, and regretting. But as I drink some more wine, it mixes with my advanced years and gives me some legs, some boldness. I pick up the phone and call the widow who lives down the road. Perhaps she'll be my girlfriend again and perhaps it's not too late to start a new life.
It has to be worth a try. I have nothing to lose.
The Ups and Downs of Horse Racing!
(This is a photo of I'm Dashing at home during the winter break).
Last year, I'm Dashing won two races and also came third in another. We felt 'up' about his performance.
So, I'm Dashing's second-from-last result on September 3 at Woodbine Racetrack was very disappointing.
An esteemed handicapper, Doug McPherson, picked him to win and wrote the following in the racing program:
"I'm Dashing was never a factor after a rough break in a Tapeta sprint on August 12 and now takes a drop in for $25,000. He won his only start over this turf course and I believe he is better around two turns".
So, I'm Dashing won on the inner turf course before and there were only seven horses in the race.
Nothing went wrong. In a previous race he lost a shoe and in another (on August 12) he was squeezed badly by the horses on either side of him shortly after he left the gate.
As far as we know, at the time of writing this, he's fine (that's the most important thing!), but it wasn't to be his race.
As owners, we have to pick ourselves up after the many 'downs' that racing brings.
Wish him luck next time!
PS I'm getting close to the end of the rough draft of the fifth book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series. The first four books are available on amazon and at Blue Heron Books.
Copyright Vicky Earle 2022