Albert · Grace

2,900 Miles From Home

Albert
Albert, May 30, 2013

My sister recently reminded me that after our grammy died in 2007, I didn’t write for a while, either. She’s right about that. Then, I withdrew to my garden and spent the summer weeding in my nightgown.

I miss my pony and think about him every day and night. But, it’s awesome to consider the outpouring of support from people who knew and loved this horse. Some of them for longer than I knew him.

People have sent embroidered pillows, bright flowers, uplifting cards, and generous donations to horse research and rescue charities. Friends offered to hold a wake for Albert and make a video tribute of his life. Folks prayed for and honored him in some incredible ways. So many good people called and emailed and shared in the joy of his life. Hundreds of people.

I like that a lot better than weeding in the garden alone. Though, I reckon each response is valid and healing.

When Albert passed away, just about three weeks ago now, I immediately left town for a business trip to Portland, which brought me home ten days later via Oakland and Phoenix.

While I was out West, during the week after Albert’s passing, my colleagues and family members let me cry and tell them about how much this horse has meant to me and my family. Folks back East checked on me by phone, listening while I recounted his courage and resolve.

In Portland, I even had help plotting a goofy memorial of tying up a stuffed pony to a historic horse hitch in Albert’s honor.

Old horse hitch, Portland, Oregon
Old horse hitch, Portland, Oregon

I didn’t just make this idea up. Portland is an enchanted city. There are all sorts of magical things to discover in the streets of Portland, such as Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park .

Admiring Mill Ends Park in Portland
Admiring Mill Ends Park in Portland

And, the Portland Pony Project.

So…when in Rome.

pretty pony
Pretty Pony at 10th and Stark, Portland

The afternoon that I hitched up this pretty pony, I offered up a silent thanksgiving for Albert and knelt to take a photo. As I stood up to leave, from behind me a man asked, “Do you mind if I take a picture, too? We have four at home.”

“Of course!” I tried to sound, I don’t know, extra chipper. “I have two horses!” Then, I burst into tears. “Well, not anymore. My old horse died the day before I came out here. I live in Virginia.”

His eyes welled up, too. “We have a thirty year old Arabian mare at home. We’re going to euthanize her this weekend.”

And, now, we both stood at 10th and Stark, crying in the sunshine.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I told him. “My horse, Albert, was almost thirty.”

He said, “She’s completely blind. Our mare.”

I nodded. “Albert was blind.”

So, us two strangers stood there taking pictures of a stuffed pony that I bought at Powell’s. We talked about Albert and talked about his mare, Kentucky. She was the first horse that his sixteen year old son ever rode.

And, that’s it. No big revelation. Except  2,900 miles from home when I was feeling so sad, I met a nice man named Ed, who loved his horse as much as I loved mine. And, he knew the day had arrived. Time to thank her for her service and let her go. And, time to remember.

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8 thoughts on “2,900 Miles From Home

  1. Kathryn, what a nice comment and thank you so much for reading the post and taking time to share your thoughts. I love knowing that you also hitched up a pony in Portland! Yes, I totally agree with how you’ve described the way we bond with animals. Really something. Thanks, again!

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  2. I have never had the pleasure of owning a horse but I had the best cat I could have ever dreamed of sharing 18 years with…and now I have another kitty who adopted the family as well. I’m hoping for at least 18 years with him, too. The love we have for our animals is the same regardless of their size or shape or how many legs they have. Albert sounds like he was a true gem.

    I too have placed a horse on a Portland city ring during a mini-reunion with best friends. Your horse ring experience sounds cathartic and healing for all involved. I’m sure Albert was smiling down on you as you and Ed talked about unconditional love.

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  3. Very beautiful story. Thanks for dropping by my blog and liking my post Aging Well. I have enjoyed several of yours here, so I am now following you, even though I don’t own a horse!

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  4. Thank you for reading! Identical in appreciation, too! I didn’t post the story for a long time b/c I don’t want to depress anybody. But, this was such a unique encounter.

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  5. Tugging at my heart strings! What a beautiful blending of two heart-breaking events. So far apart, geographically, yet identical in pain.

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