Living

Carol Reiter: Make the most of what you have

Carol Reiter

For the past few weeks, I've been kind of feeling sorry for myself.

I don't have any money, I lost one of my cats, and I haven't been feeling too great.

Pretty good reasons to feel sorry for yourself, except that's something I try really hard not to do. But when I hear people planning their vacations, or excitedly talking about their new car or what they saw on television last night, it makes me kind of depressed. I don't even have a TV, for heaven's sake.

So I've fought off the nagging little voice that tells me that there sure are a lot of things that I'll probably never, ever be able to do. Like take my dream trip to Ireland. It's something I've wanted to do for more than 20 years, and it's something I'll probably still want to do 20 years from now.

The other night, when I was looking for my missing cat, I was really down. I had babied that darn cat from a tiny kitten, giving her medicine and bottle feeding her. Now that she was big enough to go outside, she just disappeared.

While I was walking around in the near dark, looking and calling for the cat, my dog Jan was with me. She was smelling around, sticking with me, and I kept telling her to "find the cat, Jan." But either she had no clue what I was saying, or she knew that there were a bunch of cats all over the place, and to her, the "cat" was already found.

I finally sat down on the front porch and really went into a funk. I was sad about my cat, and all the other "don'ts" in my life bubbled up: I don't have money, I don't have a TV, I don't have a knee that works, etc., etc.

I finally gave up and went in the house. I picked up a magazine and sat down. It was a horse magazine, and I started leafing through it. I stopped on the letters page, and read a letter from a young girl.

She said that she loved the magazine, it made her dream of having a horse seem almost real. She wrote that she pored over the ads, pretending that she was going to order a saddle, or a new halter, for a horse that didn't exist. Yet.

Wow. That letter made me take a step back. Here was a person who didn't have a horse, but instead of sitting around and moping because she didn't have the one thing in the world that she really wanted, she did the best thing she could. She read everything she could find about horses, and she happily looked forward to when she could have her own horse. She wasn't down, she knew she would someday own a horse.

So I started thinking about the things I have done, instead of the things I'll never do.

I have worked and saved and babysat for cranky, bratty kids to get enough money for my first horse. My mom and I, with my money clutched in my hand, spent weeks looking at horses until I found the "perfect" first horse.

I have ridden all kinds of horses, from 2-year-olds that didn't know where to put their feet, to 20-somethings that were the safest and kindest horses around. I got to ride two of the most awesome horses that I've ever had the pleasure to know: Okie and Mary. Okie because he never, ever did anything to hurt anyone, and Mary because riding her is like driving a Ferrari.

I've chosen a stallion to breed my mare to, and I have seen a tiny beating heart on an ultrasound at only 30 days. I have watched mares grow big through the winter, and then I have seen one of the few true miracles in the world.

I have watched a baby horse born. I have also seen kittens and puppies and lambs born, and believe me, every single one is an awe-inspiring miracle. To see that wet, floppy little life come out and start breathing gets me every time. I can't believe that most foals can get up on their feet, run around, and nurse within an hour. It's humbling to watch a day-old foal keep up with its mother, and know that yesterday, that baby was still inside that mare.

I have owned dogs from the day that they slipped out of their mother and into life, until they walked out of this life and into the next. I have owned some good dogs, and a couple of great dogs. Even though it hurts when they pass, within a couple of months I'm looking forward to the next puppy, the next dog.

I have also watched the horses I bred grow up, get ridden, and go on to make memories for other people. I have had a mare that I raised come back to me at the end of her life, and I was blessed enough to have helped this mare into, and out of, her life. She reminded me that no matter how hard you pray, death is always the end of every life, and sometimes that's OK.

I have watched the miracle of eggs that were laid by crazy little chickens turn into fluffy innocent chicks that can run like the wind at only a couple of days old.

I have heard the beautiful chuckle that is unique to an ewe when they give birth to a lamb. That noise, from deep in the throat, is more than just a sound the ewe makes to her lamb. It's a proud, happy noise that is only made by that species of animal. It makes me smile when I hear that noise, because, like a baby's laugh, you can't help but feel good when you hear it.

I have had the incomparable blessing of having two parents, two people who loved me and were there for me for every second of my life. Although I feel that I lost them too early, I know that they are together, and that's better than the alternative. I am blessed to have had parents who loved me, but even better, that loved each other. Every day, every minute, every second. My sister and I were luckier than a lot of people, and we both know it.

I have had a ton of fun, laughter and good times with a little boy who means more to me than I can ever say. He has reminded me of the absolute goodness of life, when I didn't think there was any left anymore. When he laughs, or when his eyes crinkle up in a smile, I melt. He's a special kid, and I count him among my blessings.

I may never go to Ireland, but maybe that's OK. I would rather watch Legal or Lucy foal, and marvel at the long-legged, healthy foal that is nothing but a promise for tomorrow.

I may not go home and watch television every night, but I have four dogs that love me. Well, three anyway. Sometimes I wonder about Len.

And I may not have a nickel to spare, but I have friends, and I have a job that I like.

Best of all, I have today. Some people don't have that, some people never will. They worry about tomorrow, or dwell on yesterday. It's easy to do, but when I go home and there are four dogs ecstatic to see me, and a big, burly stallion who knows that I'll scratch his belly for him, I'm OK with today.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.

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