Sitting in my barn this morning listening to the horses eat while chattering with each other, the sun crossed over with warmth entrenching the very entrance for which my bum was planted. Smiling at a state of relaxation which overcame my body, a bit of gratitude for all God has placed before me enveloped my being.
And so I pondered…..
Staring at standing water, which was everywhere, in times of past my frustration level would have risen. Instead I am pleased, for even though this means mud all around and frustrated horses it equates to much needed water and lush turnouts in the spring.
It was a heavy soaking rain and a portion of one of our barns that for years no matter the adjustment would flood instead remained high and dry after a summer rebuild. We are slowly gaining ground and this quirky piece of land will continue to challenge us, but seeing the west side high and dry was a huge win! My arena is a small lake, yet the water allows me to see where it needs to be floated and readjusted creating a better arena next year to ride and train.
The back piece where we began building a roping arena before Ms. Jacy went into the hospital has held up perfectly with water shedding in the direction we planed the ground. This means come spring we will add the permanent footing with no adjustments and before you know it the long summer nights will be filled with horses, people and fun. The way it should it be.
I am thankful for the people God continues to place in my life.
We are not supposed to agree or get along with everyone, that would be insane. But as of late I have learned to forgive, forget and understand that many times the problem isn’t with them, it is with me (short of someone intentionally hurting you). A person who rubs you wrong or continually pushes your buttons is who they are and you cannot change that so (as I tell my children) when you are wits end remember that and understand you are the one that has a problem with them! Limit your exposure, take your own stress away and appreciate them, for they have taught you how to become a better you.
An entire community has surrounded our family during these last two years and that support has seen us through many rough spots. We are very blessed to live in a town filled with so many loving caring people. I have sat and watched with pride as our little population has stepped up for the benefit of so many as it seems we are in a weird slump when it comes to survival. The numbers of those in our town reeling from the effects of Cancer, Leukemia, and unexplained tragedies is astonishing! Yet we come together, strap our boots on tight and march to help. Our town folk don’t help for notoriety as I have seen in some places, but because we are still small enough that everyone knows, everyone and genuinely care! There for it is done out of love. There is no greater reason to help.
If you build it they will come. When we built our first barn we hoped to have a bigger family here, a horse family of like-minded individuals who not only loved their animals but enjoyed the company of those around them in the barn as well. We have all been to those barns where everyone complains and the atmosphere is filled with unhealthy competition and all feels toxic. But I can say almost four years later I feel as though we have accomplished that goal. When I walk into our barn I am surrounded by an extended family. Fantastic people who are fun, caring and look out for each other without an inkling of malice or complaint. I am a fan of getting to know each horse and their owners, understanding their personalities, how they behave and react to any situation. We are filled with quite the group and they are all wonderful. My barn manager is also a huge blessing as without her drive and enthusiasm, especially during these very trying times for our family I am convinced without a doubt our place would have suffered greatly. She is my go too, a solid foundation for what we have that I can stand upon; we are very blessed indeed.
Rodeo is a big part of our lives and without an escape from reality into this world I love so, I am certain I would have gone crazy by now. As many of you know I love cutting horses! I love riding them more than anything in this world (thank you Wes and Jalinda) but with my wife being sick that has taken a back seat for the last two years. Rodeo is my son’s passion and to witness this foundation we gave him and our daughter in regards to horses and riding flourish and expand under the tutelage of many great caring and giving adults has been a Godsend for certain. Every weekend we pack up and head out is another opportunity for him/her to reach their goals, take another step forward in competition, and to meet new people even if to only shake a hand and say hello. The rodeo family is huge and they all look out for each other. It is amazingly fun to see so many adults come together for the benefit of not only their children but everyone’s children! Offering help and support while coaching them hopefully to the next level. For me, to be able to help on horseback during the cuttings and in the chutes with other friends during the roping events has allowed me to cheer on so many kids while still feeling like my normal horseman self. To share in this experience is like no other! I hope other parents see it the same way when they are tending a gate, loading a bucking chute or pushing cattle through the chutes. It’s being able to pass on your knowledge, your love for the sport, your passions all while doing nothing more than being the support crew! It has kept me sane through this time of hardship. I thank every family that has adopted me over the last two years. Made sure I was ok, asked how my family and wife are, and ensured I was never excluded or left behind. It’s tough being the lone man out, even tougher when you think about how you can’t share any of these experiences with your wife, your son’s mom, but thanks to this new family I have become a part of I have never felt out of place or alone. I am truly blessed and thankful for you all…
My second family has been behind us all the way and staring here across our fields, I am thankful for the opportunity to do so. Being in the fire service is tough, long hours away from home (especially in the summertime) at times mentally and physically exhausting. But there is no other job quite like it. It also allows you to forge a bond with others like yourself. Living someplace else for a third of your life you become a family, and family always takes care of family. I don’t know how I would have been able to keep my head on straight without the love and support I have received from my fire department family. They have been there from the beginning two years ago, covering shifts, making sure my family is taken care of and always leaving me with these words no matter the time or place. “Whatever you need James” I have been humbled by them all.
Looking over at my dad’s house, I wish I knew it was going to be his last Christmas. I don’t why? It just is resonating with me that maybe we could have carved out more time for him between running around to the hospital and two separate families. I know there is nothing I could have changed and what is done is done. My dad and I hardly saw eye to eye on anything and he could be a touch over the top when he was cranky. But I just wish I could have told him one more time I loved him and given his frail old body a hug. Oh well, I am blessed they allowed us to move them here, where at least he died with his family around him and as we put the finishing touches on his memorial at the end of the month I hope he looks fondly upon all who come to say goodbye and know he was loved.
Staring at the back of my house I think of my wife. How lucky are we she is still with us today? She still hasn’t made it home and it has been almost 7 long months since we drove out of the driveway headed to Stanford for what was supposed to be at the most a 4 month turnaround. Once again the word family rings loud as without this tight, crazy group of misfits that we are I am sure without a doubt this entire process would have been a complete nightmare. Jacy’s family has been by her side every day. Helping with our children, jacy’s care and ensuring she is never alone. Her sisters have brought smiles and laughter and her step mum quit her job to care for her every day! The true definition of a strong family is enduring even the hardest of times and never faltering, no matter the circumstances. To her mom, dad, step mum, sisters and brothers I love you all and admire all that you are as a family. I feel very blessed to be a very small part of what and who you are. Thank you for caring for my wife.
I am also thinking about my oldest son. It has been quite the year for him. Coming home from Humboldt and deciding to join a local junior college to save money while helping me with his siblings. I joke he is my domestic partner, he thinks it’s funny, well not really. We are hoping Jacy is home before August and healthy so this young man who has placed his life on hold to live at home, help raise kids, while going to school can step foot upon Sac-States campus and finish his education. I worry about his ability to grow as a man trapped at home like it’s his senior year all over again. But it is a good deal, he lives for free, helps me and has no bills while going to school and working. Plus he has his beloved dog Cricket by his side! He seems ok after finding his grandfather in the driveway a few short weeks ago, but that is another thing he will live with forever. Thankfully Cody has very broad shoulders and seems to be able to handle a lot. A gift that will serve him well as he chases his dream to become a CHP officer. Blessed to have such an outstanding young adult for a son.
We will continue this fight, hourly, daily, weekly and monthly. Ensuring sanity remains while hustling here and moving about over there, remaining blessed and appreciative for all that we have and hold. Jacy’s fight is far from over. She is slowly regaining a bit of strength but no great progresses have been made. She is very comfortable in her new apartment and continues making her scheduled appointments at Stanford. She still has pretty severe GvHD of the lungs and is battling the very same condition in an eye. Today she is at Stanford getting poked and prodded while receiving platelets. She is also feeling the love this morning as her mom and step mum share the duties of caregiver and transport coordinators. Jacy wakes up each morning, wishes she was home, but is very thankful for her family and to still be here with us!
In summary, I guess it just comes down to what you want out of each and every day. These are things I am thankful for right here, right now. They will not fade away tomorrow or the next day, but instead be built upon, stored in the “forever appreciate” locker inside my head and used for the day when it’s my turn, to show some love, compassion, caring, encouragement, excitement, admiration, and humility at some point during someone’s day.
And for all of that I am truly thankful…
One last thought comes to mind.
You can curl up and die in the shadow of some perceived misery or gather yourself up, stand on your own two feet while learning, absorbing, adjusting and reinventing along the way.
One life right? So I have chosen the latter….