The paint stud stuck his nose over the fence and begged to be petted with liquid brown eyes. I knew my mom had always wanted a paint, a medicine hat at that. A stallion? Sure. Of course he’d have to be gelded before mom could work with him, but this guy had such a puppy dog temperament you wouldn’t know he was a stud until you looked. We’d keep him intact for a few months, I’d get a foal from my heart mare, and then we’d geld him. So, knowing the trailer looked like an old tin can and the place had trash all over it, I bought the horse for $200, because I knew if my mom had a paint horse she’d live in a tent. In other words, she’d overlook everything else, so Thunder was her Christmas gift.
I have pictures of mom sitting on the seat of her walker, leaning over the fence, loving on him. In fact, her walker still has some tooth marks from his over eager looking for treats resulted in a few nibbles. And although towards the end she told me that he might as well be mine; she’d never get out to see him again. Each time I reassured her that no, Thunder was hers.
And then it was up to me on a tearful Saturday morning a couple of months ago to let him know by burying my face in his starting to get wooly winter coat, that I guess he was mine after all. And that I hoped wherever mom went after she passed, that she had a paint horse to ride that looked just like him.
I ran across the bracelet I had made for mom shortly after I purchased Thunder for her. I can’t remember if I bought it for that first Christmas or her birthday, but I’d bought it so she could wear it and remember that she had a horse. I have a similar one purchased shortly after I bought my mare Fortune, since I boarded her about an hour away and didn’t get to see her very often.
I’d always regretted that I couldn’t find a bigger bracelet, one that would fit all the names. But now, I can wear this one side by side with Fortune’s bracelet and someday get one for Firefly and for Holly.
One of the main reasons why I wanted mom home was that she could look out the window and see her horse. I knew she wouldn’t get that in the nursing home, not when they said they’d put her in a long-term care wing and basically leave her to herself. So at least for the last sixteen months or so, she was able to be home with her cat, see her horse. It used to be something we’d do. I’d kiss Thunder on the forehead, then come in and kiss mom on the forehead, telling her that was from Thunder, horse hair and all.
And most of all, I think, the bracelet serves as a reminder that for a while, I could give mom her lifelong dream–of owning her own medicine hat paint horse.