This is the Thirteenth in my series of Grandpop stories based loosely on my Uncle Ed, a WWII Vet, and real life cowboy. I began writing about Grandpop, June 27, 2013, with what at the time I imagined what would be a standalone short story, "Perhaps I've Just Lived Too Long." You can read that story (and find links to go on) (HERE) Folks said they enjoy visiting with Grandpop, so I wrote more. Frankly, I enjoy him too.
Memorial Day and Grandpop
My cousin’s younger sister and her children had swung by to spend the weekend. Memorial Day being the big kick-off to summer and all. I heard the girls giggling in the barn as soon as I pulled in. I knew they’d be romping, as kids are want to do in early afternoon warmth in a barn full of hay, horses, tack and love. Grandpop was like a magnet to young folks, where he was they would be.
Giving my eyes a chance to adjust to the inside light I saw Grandpop had his new mare standing ground tied while the girls worked happily brushing her. Grandpop supervised from a comfortable looking hay bale perch.
“Howdy Son!” He greeted. “You’ll need to fetch a horse if you’re joinin’ us. I figured on a short warm up, get the kinks out, ride this afternoon so we’re all set for tomorrow’s big deal.”
I can’t recall how many Memorial Day parades Grandpop had ridden in, as far as I knew he’d only missed a few over the years, ever since he and Mom set stakes here right after WWII. I can remember he’d been the driving force in keeping the parade alive a few times when interest faded from time to time. “Can’t allow certain things to disappear from life.” He’d told town council more than once.
Grandpop never was one to bother much with town business, but everyone knew him and most folks valued his opinion. There was that one year; I think I was senior in high school when the parade was pretty much Grandpop, a few veteran friends, mom, my sister and me, one fire truck and half the school band. He told me once if it’s only him and a horse, as long as he’s on this side of the grass he’d do his best to have a Memorial Day parade in town. “For the youngin’s. Need to make sure they keep rememberin’ Memorial Day is more than hot dogs and a long weekend.”
We started out four abreast, just as we’d ride in the morning in town. The girls looked great, smiles as wide as the meadow. The horses marched magnificently, as if they understood the importance of the day. Grandpop always did, and still can sit a horse as finely as ever anyone who has ever ridden. The years have taken a toll; his shoulders not quite a square, but the aura of the man gleamed when he sat a horse, or talked about the respect for our country, and honor of those who’d paid the ultimate price to keep her free, and safe. Of course he shined when he spoke of mom, us kids, grandkids, great grandkids, horses, love and God ... but when respect and honor for our country was the topic, he radiated.
We rode for an hour, Grandpop told the girls, although he’d told them before, Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day when it started, right after the Civil War, as widows decorated the graves of those fallen in that great conflict. “It’s grown now to honor all those who’ve died while serving.” He explained. “Veteran’s day in the fall honors all who’ve served.”
We rounded the turn heading back to the corrals and the girls excitement grew for the next day’s ride. They would each be carrying flags. Watching their happy faces and listening to their questions I knew these two would never allow the meaning of Memorial Day to disappear from their lives.
Gitty Up, Dutch Henry
Please check out my website www.itsforthehorses.com to have a look at all my books and book trailer for It's for the Horses ~ Thanks