Remember that rain I spoke of yesterday? Well, it’s still raining. And that means wet horses and mud.

Lots of mud.

When the weather is dicey, I almost always have the same conversation with myself. It goes like this:

“It’s going to be so (fill in the appropriate weather descriptor) out there. Maybe they can miss this time. Sure they can. It’s only one feeding after all. They’ll be fine.”

Then I picture my old sweeties, rain dripping down their faces, waiting for me. Standing at the gate. Counting on me to be there.

That’s when I dig out my rain gear, pull on my boots and start scooping grain.

It’s about commitment – the agreement I made with my horses. More than that, it’s the agreement I made with myself.

I’ve learned about commitment from two amazing women, both in their eighties.

When Anne’s husband had a stroke and was moved to a care facility, she became his guardian angel. She never missed a day going to see him. She made sure he was being cared for in the way she deemed proper, sometimes to the consternation of the staff. She minced no words when it came to her husband.

Anne went to great lengths to see to it that his life had some touches of home. She decorated his room, she brought his favorite CD’s, and she shopped for comfortable, easy-care clothing that helped him maintain his dignity. She sneaked him goodies, like Peanut Buster Parfaits from the local Dairy Queen. And every night, she gathered several of the residents, wheeled them to the outdoor patio, to have their evening coffee. It was a ritual she carried from home;  a semblance of normalcy where everything else was wildly abnormal.

She told me that she simply adjusted her life so that she got her things done in the morning, which left her late afternoon and evening free for her husband. I’ve often wondered if I could do it. Could I drop my life that way? And yet, I know that Don was her life. So really, there was no dropping. She adjusted.

My other mentor, Jean did much the same thing. When her husband’s health declined and it became necessary to move him to a care facility, she carried on their routine just as Anne did.

She made daily visits, watching his care with an eagle eye. And her treat was to sneak in a bit of wine, disguised in a water bottle, so that they could share an evening cocktail. Again, carrying on a routine from their life together, before old age and infirmity took its inevitable toll.

Jean’s family is having a memorial service for her this weekend. Rest well dear friend, and thank you for being one of my teachers.

These two women understood commitment and they lived it every day. They were married in an era when women took care of their husbands, even when they didn’t always like them! It was the agreement they made and they followed it with exquisite precision.

I know many things have changed in this twenty-first century, marriage and relationships among them. Sometimes I wonder if it’s for the better.

I admire Anne and Jean and hope I can be even slightly like them when the challenges of old age catch up to me. I want to model their commitment. I want to be present for the people who matter to me.

I’m getting some good practice with Bud and Pepper.

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