Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Love

More Memories

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I hope you will understand if I continue our memorial another consecutive day, but I only made it through half of the pictures I had collected when I composed yesterday’s post, and Legacy’s life was just too big to fit into one photo montage.

Actually, the steps of composing these posts is therapeutic for Cyndie and me in processing our grief, so indulge us another day of honoring Legacy’s recent passing.

Despite holding the important position of herd-leader, he sure seemed to have plenty of time for play and/or mischief.

He never missed an opportunity to nibble and disassemble fencing, gate chains, our electric fence charger, wheelbarrow handles, or any other random item left within his reach. Whenever I took on a project that was in or near the paddocks, he was quick to come over to perform an inspection.

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I repeatedly found myself mentioning to Cyndie that I had a supervisor watching over my every move.

If you look back at the first two pictures in yesterday’s post, there is a striking difference between the sleek look of his summer coat and his bushy growth for winter. When it came time to shed that long hair, we struggled to cope with the immensity of the event.

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Of course, no sooner would we get him cleaned up than he would go off to find the messiest possible spot to roll around.

In his role as herd leader, Legacy made a point of being the first to approach whenever I wandered up to the fence to take pictures of the horses together. Most of those pictures ended up being of Legacy with three horses behind him, but not always.

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One of the most precious things Legacy demonstrated was his keen sensitivity for visitors who may not have any horse experience, might be feeling anxious, or were too young to understand safety protocols. Legacy was often the first of our horses to volunteer for exercises with clients.

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He always took steps to assure every person received attention, not just when there happened to be treats being handed out.

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That being said, he was a major treat-hound when it came to that. The presence of treats may have been one situation where the herd’s best interests were dropped down a notch below his own. The day we brought out the bright red frozen treats, shown in yesterday’s montage, he commanded full, exclusive control until he had his fill. The resulting red lips were a real hoot.

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Legacy rarely demonstrated a need to demand respect, basically, because it wasn’t necessary. He was granted full authority by the herd. Delilah naively tested Legs a couple of times, but it was never a fair exchange. Equine smarts held the advantage in all of their interactions that I witnessed.

There were countless occasions when I watched the three chestnuts scrambling with each other to challenge a pecking order, but Legacy was above such shenanigans.

He left them alone as often as possible to work it out themselves, and they were always careful to avoid brushing into him while they skirmished.

There is an uncanny void in our midst which will be incredibly difficult to fill. Legacy can’t be replaced.

With all that he has done for us in our time with him here, Legacy’s wisdom and spirit will remain a permanent fixture, that’s for sure. We are incredibly blessed and so very lucky to have had the honor of him becoming an integral part of our Wintervale Ranch adventures.

For now, though, it’s goodbye physical Legacy, goodbye.

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2018 at 7:00 am

Photo Memories

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Legacy …  7/18/1996-1/14/2018

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Written by johnwhays

January 16, 2018 at 7:00 am

Remembering Legacy

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He was a consummate leader, our Legacy. He arrived to our care in September of 2013, master of this group of 3 chestnuts with which he had been matched. We quickly came to recognize his gracious control of the herd as their benevolent dictator.

In the last couple of months we noticed signs something might be up, hints that maybe he was aware the end was near.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie found him in very bad shape out in the pasture. He had been so uncomfortable he had wrangled out of his blanket, and thus ended up matted with balls of iced-up snow.

Whatever was causing him pain, it was now exacerbated by his nearly freezing in the overnight sub-zero cold. Cyndie was able to get him up and walking back into the paddock before coming to get me and contact our vet. Legacy was heroic about letting us attempt to get him warmed up and responding to some meds, but his age, and condition, and the cold all conspired to keep the interventions short of being able to extend his time.

After a couple of hours waiting to see if he would feel better, his behavior was very clear. The vet returned and gently guided us through the process of helping Legacy through this transition.

Before the vet arrived, we had walked Legacy out of the paddock to open space in front of the barn. He was pawing the ground in response to pain and so Cyndie walked him to pass the time. He did really well for a brief span, but then picked a perfect spot to stop and calmly lay down.

He curled his legs underneath him and sat quietly, no longer needing to paw in pain. He accepted our hugs and condolences and patiently awaited what was to come.

When the truck pulled up, Legacy laid his head down, as if fully aware of what came next.

His amazing spirit is threaded indelibly throughout every single aspect of Wintervale Ranch, right down to the outline of his face in our logo. There are so many amazing, beautiful memories we have and hold of his time with us. He is irreplaceable and we will be challenged to figure out how to manage the days ahead, guiding Dezirea, Cayenne, and Hunter through their grief, while struggling to cope with our own.

Thank you to all of you who are supporting us with your love and kind condolences. Send our horses love. They are visibly disturbed by his departure, yet they mustered strength to provide some loving equine understanding to Cyndie as the vet drove away.

Legacy, (7/18/1996-1/14/2018), we send you off with all the love you fostered here, and more. May your spirit soar!

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

Cold Again

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We didn’t end up receiving the amount of snow that looked like a good possibility on the prediction charts provided by the weather service in the final hours before yesterday’s storm rolled across the region. It’s difficult to get a read on the actual amount because there was enough wind to keep most of the deck clear down to the boards, and in areas where it piled up, the drifts are all exaggerations of what officially fell out of the sky.

My commute both to and from work was generally uneventful, but complicated too frequently by overly cautious drivers who ended up blocking the passing lane.

It took me over twice as long as normal to get home. After an hour and a half, I decided to stop to get gas, just so I could use the bathroom.

The highlight of the day was that George and Annaliese arrived for a visit. Our horses needed a trim, and George offered his farrier services in exchange for room and board for a few days while he is back to service a batch of his old clients.

We shared a fine meal and sat by the fire for an ice cream and brownie dessert, chatting the night away in a throwback to the many wonderful days we shared in similar fashion last year when they lived with us while in transition between homes.

The horses were granted the protection of the barn overnight, so they didn’t have to tolerate the windchill. They are pretty transparent about how much they like being able to come in when the weather gets nasty.

It’s cold again outside, but we have all the warmth we need inside to rally our energies for doing battle against the winter elements for the chores that demand attention.

Something tells me that my indoor chores, like napping, just might be the primary thing demanding attention from me for the rest of this day.

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Feeling Love

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In my lifetime, the art of feeling love has been a struggle to fully achieve. Luckily, I have had plenty of opportunity to practice. Most precious of all has been having Cynthia Ann Friswold around to repeatedly offer her guidance.

Quite frankly, some of that guidance comes across in a disguise that deftly pushes buttons that I’d rather not have pushed, but that’s part of the secret. Love isn’t always rainbows, flowers, and chocolate. True love is much more complex than that.

As a depressed person, I was distracted from being able to fully love. A combination of treatment for depression and couples therapy for our relationship was key to opening my eyes and my heart to love’s true potential.

Adding animals to our family has expanded my understanding of love to even greater depths.

Last evening, as I was holding our Buff Orpington hen while Cyndie worked diligently to remove globs of dried poop from the chicken’s tail feathers, I silently conveyed our love to the bird imprisoned by my grasp. Between a few isolated moments of flinching in discomfort, she generally rested her head against me and waited out the task.

We can hope she was able to tell our motives were pure.

Cyndie wanted me to offer the hen a red raspberry treat in reward for her patience of enduring the awkward procedure, but the Buff showed no interest. She just gave it the eye, with total detachment.

I had no idea that owning chickens might involve needing to bring them in out of the cold in the winter to wash and dry their butts. It’s a good thing they have gotten us to fall in love with them.

Owning horses is a whole ‘nother level of love.

Before our four Arabians had even arrived, back when we were having paddock fencing installed, a water line being buried, and a hay shed being built, the excavator arrived in his giant dump truck and chatted out his window with me at our first meeting. He asked what this project was about, and I told him my wife wants to get horses.

In a high-pitched voice of alarm, he exclaimed, “HORSES!?! It would be cheaper to get a new wife!”

Yes, there are costs to owning horses, but the rewards are pretty much immeasurable.

How do you measure love?

All I know for sure is, I’m feeling an awful lot of it in this latest phase of my life.

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Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

Going Tropical

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From the series of previous posts reviewing my history with Cyndie and her family, I hoped to provide a more complete background for what led to this year’s adventure to the Dominican Republic over Christmas.

After years of growing families, the Friswold Christmas spectacle of the classic gift exchange had expanded almost to the point we couldn’t fit all the gifts in one room. This was despite an effort long ago to rein things in by drawing individual names for the adults giving gifts.

I witnessed Cyndie and her brothers making an effort to encourage moderation, but it’s hard to restrain the love of giving. It was difficult to detect much evidence of change.

They were also putting energy and imagination toward devising ways to reduce the (mostly self-imposed) burden on Marie of hosting to the nines for hours on end, three or four days in a row. That effort was also producing mixed results.

Then, along came the year 2017, which just happened to include several significant milestones for Fred and Marie. They both celebrated 80th birthdays, certainly a benchmark for which they deserve the reasonable courtesy of reduced stress and aggravation in their days.

Equally noteworthy is this year’s marking of their 60th wedding anniversary. With these special events dealt to their hands, the two cunning card players set about making the big play.

Obviously, they had been counting cards all along, because they knew what was going to be dealt in advance. We found out a full year ago that Fred and Marie wanted to bring the whole clan to the Dominican Republic for Christmas this year.

No names will be drawn, no food needs to be planned or prepared, no setting up of tables and chairs, no world-class flower arrangements will need to be flown from Boston by Carlos, no dishes will need to be done for hours on end.

We will have the gift of a full week of each other’s company in the warmth of sun, sand, palm trees, and ocean breezes.

The whole clan, together again like a decade ago on Hilton Head Island.

I have no concept of what they could possibly dream up that could top this ten years from now, in celebration of their 70th anniversary.

What a family.

To Fred and Marie:

You have done the world a great service, raising these four amazing individuals with so much love.

You’ve given me an amazing opportunity to be included as family. You have blessed all your grandchildren with bountiful and limitless love.

Here’s hoping your dreams for this tropical Christmas were fulfilled, and that you enjoy many more days as stress-free as this week hopefully was for you both.

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What About

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What about the Hays family Christmases? How could we fly off to the tropics for a week over this holiday!? Well, it’s not for lack of love to my birth clan, that’s for sure. Here’s a shout out my siblings and their families.

I see the difference between Cyndie’s and my family as an asset. Basically, it starts with the difference in age of our parents. Ralph and Betty were nearing the end of their high school years when Fred and Marie were born. I was the fifth of six kids, while Cyndie was the first of five. Our combined perspectives are broader than they would be, each on our own.

Now my parents have moved on to the world of spirits and my siblings are all grandparents. They are the matriarchs and patriarchs of their own respective families. My siblings and I haven’t maintained a specific Hays tradition of celebrating Christmas together.

However, the memories of our glorious past endure and I’m sure have directly shaped the new traditions of our kids and grandkids.

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Just three years ago, Cyndie and I had the pleasure of hosting a gathering of Hays families at Christmastime and I wrote about it here on Relative Something. Here is an excerpt from December 2014’s “Sibling Revelry.”

Despite a sloppy wintry mix of precipitation doing its best to dampen our spirits (sorry ’bout the pun), the gathering of Hays relatives was a joy and a half. As always happens to me at family gatherings of limited duration, the riches of access to siblings I grew up with is enticing, but the reality of our usual chaos leaves me wishing there was more time. It is hard to finish a story, and sometimes a single sentence, without interruption. My attention is too often wrenched away from the person I was listening to, and time flies by so fast, the hour of departure comes up way too soon.

Regardless, every moment was precious. Reconnecting after long periods of separation, with siblings who share so many tendencies and characteristics, is refreshing and invigorating. I tend to feel a kind of validation of who I am, discovering the brothers and sisters that I grew up with remain so similar in behavior and perspectives. I am among my people again.

DSC03401eCHI’m lucky that, as a family, we all get along. These are the people who inhabited Intervale Ranch with me from the day I was born until 9 years later, when our family moved out and the property was razed for development into an industrial park.

With technical assistance from my son, Julian, I was able to display a digitized version of a slide show I put together close to 30 years ago, which featured that old farm property. It provided an opportunity to exercise our memories, as we analyzed some of the images and compared recollections.

Meanwhile, there was non-stop food to be consumed, youngsters to get reacquainted with and entertained by, and horses to visit…

Love you, Hays relations! Hope you all had fabulous Christmas celebrations at home while we were away!

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Written by johnwhays

December 29, 2017 at 7:00 am