Sunday, January 07, 2007



You know, I’ve told you before that I am a rich woman. I’ve told you before that I am blessed to be surrounded with like-souls who also treasure life and caring for all creatures. I’ve told you how lucky I am to simply be the caretaker of a herd of rejected horses and in that, countless people have been brought in to my life enriching it and me beyond any of my wildest hopes or expectations.

Yesterday, I saw that even I had underestimated my wealth.

It was to be just a quiet birthday lunch. Five of us women just taking the time to sit down and eat and laugh and talk and then go on our ways. Nothing fancy. Just some time “with people who care about you” she had said. Cathi had arranged it with me and I said sure. A quiet lunch would be nice. Okay.

Cathi and Sabra arrived and we chatted and then wandered out to the barns. When you aren’t here everyday, I know that just seeing them up close – even in your good clothes - is important. Every chance to touch them is still important for me and I see them twice a day, every single day! Knowing the peace such visits can bring, we spent the time to touch The Herd before leaving for lunch.

Where are we going? Pizza Hut®! Good! I feel like pizza! Good choice, whoever made the choice!

As we pulled in to the parking lot I - ever suspicious - checked out the cars to see if I could recognize any of them…I see Lynn’s van – was expecting that – but no other vehicles jump out at me. I don’t see LB’s taxi. Nope. Don’t see Toni’s car. Nope. I relaxed and meandered in to the restaurant. The hostess asked us, as we walked in, if we were “with the birthday party?”

I stopped. Cathi grabbed my sleeve and dragged me forward. AH HA!!! Around the corner we went and a whole herd of people were there surrounded by balloons and cupcakes with candles and they were standing and singing the Refuge Farms Birthday Song! And I was thrilled!

Deep down, you know, birthdays are a very special day to people and it is always a thrill when others take the time to recognize Your Special Day. Lately, though, I have shunned the day and just gone about my business. Almost trying to ignore The Day. Not because of the age thing. Heavens, no! I age every single day and I’m not an age kind of person. In fact, if you ask me my age, I have to stop and do the math. It’s just a number to me.

No, you see, the days around my birthday are those “anniversaries of life” days. My sister was buried on my birthday back in 1993. I can still smell the flowers. And it seems like just yesterday that Andy was buried on my birthday. I can still feel the bitter cold of that January. And so the days leading up to my birthday are usually ones where I tend to be quiet. And with a migraine. Usually, I tend to pull inside myself. Usually.

But not this year! This year we were going to have a party! And there would be plenty of noise!!! And I was thrilled!

Toni was there (where had she parked?). Luretta was there (didn’t see her car with custom plates, either!). Linda and Mike were there! Frannie and Heidi were there! Lynn and Kathy were there – those two I was expecting…. and LB was there (where was her taxi?). And of course, Cathi and Sabra sat there looking like they had just swallowed birds. These two with the task of getting me there without raising suspicions. Maybe that was why Cathi was a bit chatty, eh???

Tables had been pulled together and so this group of friends and I sat down to a lunch full of laughter and fun. And yes, I was thrilled!

Presents? Yup, there were presents. And it all started off with a bouquet of roses. Wait - I need to explain! These roses are almost three feet high! And their leafy stems are a lovely lime green and at least three inches around. And each rose is topped with a center of white or pink or red. And there’s a ladybug on the band holding the bouquet together. And this ladybug is at least three inches long and she’s fat! What, you say? How could this be?

You see Mike has a talent of creating things with his hands. My bouquet of roses is out of balloons – and I love it! It is standing in my kitchen in a pail (!) for a vase and these bobbing roses literally fill the room! And another benefit? The bouquet has the cats occupied and quiet as they sit and stare trying to figure out just what these things are!!! Now, I am really thrilled!

And there were cards. Even before yesterday, I was receiving electronic cards – beautiful ones! and emails with birthday wishes….And then yesterday there were funny cards and serious cards and even a card for me to “red pen”! There was a cedar, hand-turned pen and keybob – absolutely exquisite! There was a January angel complete with my birthstone, a gift card to the health food store, new shoes – Mama has new shoes! And there was a precious mouse pad made from a picture of Lady-the-Dog and me in the truck last summer, and a perfect Christmas ornament of a young girl with her horse. All this for a woman who says ‘no presents!” But I was thrilled!

We settled down a bit and then someone handed me a fancy new cell phone. “Just say hello”, Lynn said. Obediently, I say, “Hello?”

“Hey! Happy Birthday”, Vincent said from Louisiana. These people had thought of everything! Even Vincent was with us! Now, I won’t mention anything about V’s card and his reference to the aura in the night sky up here in Wisconsin and how, maybe, that aura was due to candle (birthday candle?) power!! Nope, we won’t mention that, now will we, V? No, we wouldn’t even think of putting it out on the bulletin board for the whole world to see, now would we, V?

We settled in a bit and ordered our lunch. And then in walked Deb! What a surprise! These people had truly thought of everything! And I was smiling and laughing and I was thrilled!

Dinner was great and the conversation was lively, to put it mildly. Plates of cupcakes were bundled together and I was asked to blow out all the candles. Made a really good effort, that's for sure! Was fodder for a good laugh, too!!! Aging has a way of changing your life actions a bit…. And I find that I can either laugh with it or worry about it. I choose to laugh at myself and my aging process…. and I try to bring a few others along with me. It gives me great pleasure to create laughter with these friends of mine.

And then, true to the spirit of Refuge Farms, LB took the remaining cupcakes and offered them to the children at the tables in the restaurant. This simple, unselfish gesture caused me to sit and reflect for a moment.

These people give of their hearts and their hands and their minds all year long. They give and they give and they give. And this surprise birthday party was fun for them. But people! It was them giving again! They gave of their time on a Saturday and of their hearts with their cards and their gifts. And they gave me hugs. That was the very best part of all. Warm, big, bear hugs. Their laughter was contagious! And I sat there and just soaked it all in…. And truly, I was thrilled!

Like I keep telling you – I am a rich woman, indeed. To be blessed and surrounded with caregivers like this. They care for the horses. They care for the barns and the yard. They care for each other. And they care for me. I am wealthy beyond my wildest dreams! I am loved and I can feel it! Lucky, lucky me… And I sit here with my three-foot bouquet of roses and my cards taped to the clock and I smile. I am rich. Truly, honestly wealthy. And I am thrilled! Way down deep inside.

May you be so lucky and wealthy to have such people in your life. Trust me – if you just allow them, they will wrap their arms around you and hug you and hold you up when you need them the most. And they will surround you with their care and their safety will allow you to let the pain move on. You will realize that you can remember the event and respect the event, but not mourn the event every single year. You can allow yourself - with a free heart - to acknowledge that it is time to move on. That even these “life anniversary days” are days to celebrate! And that it is okay and totally good for you to not spend these days withdrawn or all alone. That remembering is good. But being happy every single day is better. Trust those that care for you and allow them to give to you. Celebrate with them! And you will be thrilled!

Enjoy the journey of each and every day – especially the “Life Anniversary Days”,
A Very Wealthy Sandy and The Herd

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