Thursday, January 2, 2014
My sister loves Rio, too, and she is the one who picks up feed and unloads it, six bags at a time. Well, she buys six bags at a time, not that she carries six bags at once as they weigh 50 pounds each. On occasion when I have been there, I had to go buy feed and unload it, but usually that chore is done when I am there.
I do get to fork hay in the winter, and that was a pretty wild chore last week when I could not get the baling wire off the bale of hay. The wounds are mostly healed now, with only two small scabs left to show the results. Next time, I will be sure to have those wire cutters in my pocket, since Texas does not use seagrass string to tie up bales of hay. (Shout out to Lana for teaching me something new about my adopted state. However, I will point out that there are myriad uses of baling wire, and my grandmother was proof. She practically built her yard fence with baling wire.)
Because Dad can't get down to the barn now to see Rio, I usually take a picture or two of him each time. I am such a common feature at feeding time now that Rio nickers when he sees me coming--a little sound that makes my heart feel good. The caregivers feed him, keep the hay out, and keep the water trough full, but they don't have affection for him. I always give him his handful of grain while he waits at the gate--because Dad did that. I give him a peppermint treat--because Dad did that. I pet him, and call him my baby boy--because Dad did that.
Because I am pronoid, the exchange is vital to me, and because I understand something about stability, the consistency is important to Rio, to Dad, and to me. Last week, as I was forking hay, Rio came up to watch me. I stopped and petted him, talking to him. Back at the house, Dad said, "I saw you petting my horse out in the pasture." Dad had been standing at the kitchen window and looked out to see me and Rio. That little memory is tucked inside my heart now. Simple, but profound, knowing he knows that Rio is more than a chore to be done, knowing that he knows I value Rio as more than a chore to be done, but rather, a relationship to be maintained. Rio is like therapy: in the midst of all the endless uncharted terrain of the past year, he is just there, quietly standing by me, accepting my affection, returning it with his nicker of thanks, and helping me maintain connection with Dad and Sis--because she and I are committed to keeping Dad's life as normal as possible as long as possible.
Here's a little present for Dad: