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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Night Owl A Mudcatter's Thank You (105* d) RE: A Mudcatter's Thank You 20 Mar 02

I've been debating for a while here whether or not to continue with this "history". I decided to hit "submit" after thinking about how much validation I feel sometimes, when other members talk about their personal lives and losses. I also don't think "Thank-You" makes sense unless you guys know for what....and how far down some of you reached to pull me up.
So I'm gonna continue from where I left off...

After a while I was done taking care of my brother's unfinished projects, gently tucking him into bed and saying good night to him.
And I had done as much as I could to ease my mother's grief.....and help her find her own "will to live". (She just celebrated her 92nd birthday this Friday.)

I spent a few years working in a Nursing Home..a job I got because I learned that most people ran when I uttered the word "death"..and are REALLY uncomfortable talking about it. Even my closest friends would change the subject trying to be "helpful" and supportive. In the Nursing Home.....death is a subject in a normal conversation.
I was assigned to work with the terminally ill patients....because, they told me, I was "intuitive and have a gentle manner". I learned a lot there, about non-verbal communication, physical and mental disabilities, the importance of music and how much we don't know about brain function. Most importantly, the patients there, and the work I was doing, helped me heal.

I think there comes a time in life, when we sit and reflect, and breathe for a sec...and realize we're NOT getting any younger....and underneath inside, we've had a nagging desire to do something or other....but lacked the time/courage/opportunity to go for it. (I think it's called a "mid-life crisis"
Sitting outside on a break at the Nursing Home one night, I realized that I had healed as much as I was going to, had learned as much about life/death as the job could teach me, and to continue in the job was unhealthy.

When I got home that night, I talked with my partner about starting our own business. For years I had run a small horse and carriage thing part time for fun..and mostly just gave free driving lessons, history lessons about the village and about life before the automobile... and "this is a horse, this is the steering wheel, this is the gas pedal, brakes" etc. lessons to kids in town.

My partner had absolute, unquestioning love and respect for not only the me I am, warts and all, but also my knowledge and skills with the horses and teaching.

We decided to go for it.

During the following months, we attended the workshops held by the Small-Business Administration, wrote up a detailed business plan....procured a contract with a five-star hotel/restaurant in town....banged on doors for funding......and finally found a bank willing to take a chance....with no give us the loan.
We were told that the loan was approved.....not only because of the excellent job we did in writing the business plan, but mostly because our commitment, knowledge and belief in what we were doing was contagious. Our goal was to use the income from weddings and special events to support some community stuff we planned to do.

We embarked on what he called a "reconnaissance mission" and found two horses with the unique personalities we needed, commercial harnesses, and two used carriages.

It was a trip I will be forever thankful for taking.

In searching for the equipment, we agreed that I would only look at carriages AFTER they passed his safety inspection tests....mechanical, electrical, structural integrity of the wood etc. and that he would look at horses only AFTER they passed my personality tests.

He wasn't a "perfect" person......and had some personal demons he struggled with....and like many of us...he had well-hidden self-esteem problems. He was one of those people that felt he was a "jack-of-all-trades, master of none"....a GOOD auto mechanic, electrician,framing carpenter and well-respected finish carpenter.....none of which he felt passionate about.

It was amazing to witness......the skills he had learned in his lifetime....coming together with clarity and purpose during our trip......while inspecting the vehicles....meeting,talking with people, his kindness showed through....and in the process....earned him the respect of anyone watching him do his thing....and his passion and commitment to what we were doing got stronger.

He had always been well respected by other people for his skills and intelligence ....but the difference this time was that he felt it himself.

It's a dangerous thing to combine a relationship with work in which only ONE can be the boss. BUT we did it.......with LOTS of humor. He bought a hat with a funny logo on it...and bought me one that said "Boss". We wore our hats when we did business stuff,and took them off when the work was done for the day.
We worked...both of us.....sometimes 18-20 hours a day...enjoying every minute..(well, almost every minute) prepare for opening the business. We worked hard and had lots of giggles doing it....we made a good team.

By Dec. of 1994, everything was done.....and we both took other jobs for the rest of the winter.
I began working with an 8yr. old "special needs" boy who had a lot of medical and behavioral problems.

My partner and I made plans to bring the horses and equipment to the village in March, 1995, allowing ourselves time to work out any "bugs" before the tourist season started.

In Feb., 1995 he died.....three weeks before we were to start.
He was the innocent victim of a drug-crazed man with a the wrong place at the wrong time. The gunman also kidnapped a father and his 2 yr. old son, but thankfully,after a wild ride at gunpoint..let them go...unharmed physically....before turning the gun on himself.

Eventually, I added more stuff to the "memory wall" in my home.......and put his picture on the small table beside my brother's trophy.

This wasn't just a house fire..most aren't. It put me back on those old pages I'm writing about because my "memory wall" stuff burnt.

Today, depending on weather, the bulldozer will be taking down what remains of the structure that was my home. The trees have already been cut down to make room for the heavy equipment.

I have one more "history" post to write here ....after which I hope to share some "Mudcat magic" giggles and "potato peeler" thank-yous.

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