At ten yesterday morning the phone rang.  I was deeply immersed in a juicy draft of a blog post.  OK, not really, I was struggling with my website, smoke visible from my ears.

Heather, owner of Mountain Lane Farm where I board my two mares, was calling.  She was with her troop of day-campers on a field trip and the vet had just called.  Mark, the vet, was on his way out to the farm to check one of Heather’s mares.  “Can you go grab Shadow out of the pasture for Mark?”  “No problem,” I said.  “I could use a diversion right about now.

I threw on some jeans and a work shirt, grabbed my red rubber boots and headed out the door.  The air was thick with humidity as I climbed into the truck.  When I got to the pasture it occurred to me that there were three black and white pinto mares to choose from.  Since this check up was about Shadow being pregnant, I couldn’t make a mistake.  After five years of boarding at Mountain Lane I still had a hard time telling the difference between Heather’s twin daughters, never mind the myriad of painted ponies she owns.  A quick call confirmed that indeed, Shadow is the one with the all black tail.

It was a long walk to the barnyard.  The flies plagued Shadow and she was in no hurry to see the vet.  All was calm and peaceful when we finally got up to the barn.  I soaked Shadow liberally with fly spray and sat down in the sun to wait.  The animals were quietly going about their day, eating or sleeping in the sun, seeking shade or water.  I started weeding one of the flower gardens just to kill time.  Shortly, Mark swung into the yard.  He was on his phone and no sooner did he hang up than it rang again.  I marveled at how he keeps everything straight when he is so incredibly busy.

I held Shadow while Mark administered a small dose to calm her down. Tranquilizing a horse is always a delicate balance.  Within minutes, their head starts to droop and their legs become wobbly.  While I held her head and balanced her against a post, Mark went about his job at the other end.  I spoke softly to her about how great motherhood was and regaled her with my own memories.  Shadow merely snored into my arm.

With the inspection over and Shadow safely tucked into a stall to dream off the drugs, I helped Mark pack up his tools.  We started chatting by his truck and when he asked what I had been up to lately, I mentioned I had recently graduated from a Hospice volunteer program.  “I have a lot of respect for people who do hospice.  My dad had hospice at the end and the volunteers were all so calm and kind. Why are you interested in it?” he asked.  His very statement reinforced why I do it.  No one ever has a bad story about hospice and most have pleasant memories of the volunteers easing the pain of a loved one.

I told him my two reasons:

  • To give back for what hospice did for me when I lost my dad and mom
  • To understand my fear of death and become more comfortable with the inevitable.

Mark’s phone went off for the umpteenth time but he ignored it.  We talked about the universal fear of dying.  From there the discussion moved to spirituality and faith.  Before I realized it, we had conversed for half an hour as his phone messages piled up.

Another diversion in a day that otherwise may not have been terribly remarkable.

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