It's Memorial Day weekend — the first big holiday weekend of the summer season! Pack up the kids and the dog and head to the lake. Take the BBQ and put the dock in the water. Take the first boat ride of the season. And maybe, if you are really really brave, take that first swim of the summer. This is the weekend that we officially kick-off the summer of 2006.
Fun and laughter and sunshine and play and bonfires and plans for the coming summer here in Wisconsin: This is what this Memorial Day weekend is all about, right?
No, Memorial Day is not intended to be the summer kick-off celebration. No, Memorial Day is intended to be a day of memorial. A day for us to pause and think back and remember. To decorate the graves of those who have come before. To ponder the impact of people in our lives who have shaped us by just living.
In my life, it's very simple. The people who have impacted and formed and taught me are quite a short list — my dad, my mom, my sister, Suzanne and Andy.
My dad was what I would call a somber man. He was slow to smile. He didn't hug you right out of the shoot. No, you had to earn his trust. But he taught me a few life lessons
that I live by today. My dad taught me that my handshake was as good as, maybe even better than, a contract. My dad taught me that the basis of my being was good ethics
and solid work. My dad taught me to do things that I would be proud of — not ashamed of or needing to hide. My dad loved me and showed me, in his short life, that I was important to him.
My mom had a quick smile and a hearty laugh. She was warm and
friendly and always ready to listen. She loved, absolutely loved, a good,clean joke. And
man, could she cook! My Mom had the talent of making one single pound of hamburger feed a family of four for an entire week. She could make bread and noodles. And she kept me clean (as best as she
could!) and she hugged me a lot. My mom told me, and everyone around her, that I was her Little Indian and she openly loved me. She crossed on Christmas Eve while enjoying just being with me.
My sister was my best friend. At least we grew into best friends. I was her devious little shadow in her childhood. Donna was five years older than me and I wanted nothing more than to be with her — always. Difficult as that was for a teenage girl, my sister tolerated me hanging around and she even took me with her to the drive-in movies. What a girl! As we aged, we became adult women with common history and that grew into a closeness that I probably will never find again in my life.
Suzanne was not blood relation at all. But Suzanne was my second mom, my second sister, my mentor and my friend. My mom trusted this woman to babysit me when I was only three days old, so my mom could take my dad to Rochester for a "nervous break-down." When my family crossed, Suzanne just stepped in and did her best to be that famiiy. Her eyes literally twinkled when she smiled. Her last words to me were, "Just be happy." I'm doing my best, Suzanne.
And then, of course, there's Andy. The man who challenged me to, "Take this horse, Sandy, and make a difference in somebody's life." Dear Andy, who, with that simple gesture changed my life forever, who opened my eyes and my heart to the idea of sharing these healing creatures, who challenged me to show other human beings what I had found in these horses — the peace, the unconditionai love, the warmth, the steadiness and the
trust that seemed to be missing in my life. Oh, Andy, look at what you have done!
And if you know me at all, even just a bit, you will know then that if I am talking about those who have impacted my life I must mention
Jerry — Jerry, the Roan Horse. This horse came to me and was indeed a part of "The Plan." It needed to be a horse to teach me how to work with horses. And so this monster pulling champion picked me and taught me how to drive horses,
how to harness horses, how to safely be amongst a herd of horses, and
how to love horses- Jerry. What a horse!
On this Memorial Day weekend, you will find me mowing lawn, cleaning barns, filling stock tanks, working in the memory gardens, and cleaning the pond. You will find me going to a very special graduation ceremony.
And you will find me pondering the love and impact of my dad, my mom, my sister, Susanne and Andy. And you will find me decorating Jerry, the Roan Horse. They are all together now, helping me and guiding me every day. Helping me to build this place we call Refuge Farms. Reminding me to share. Reminding me to smile and to trust and to be a good worker. And to be happy.
So spend a quiet moment this Memorial Day weekend amongst all the summer flutter. Spend a moment and be thankful for the being's that have formed you. A friend. Your family. A dog. A child. Be a part of what this weekend is all about and remember. Remember with respect.
Enjoy the journey of each and every day.
Sandy and The Herd